The other day I was reading someone’s blog in which the question “Why do you write?” was asked. (Ugh, I wish I could remember whose blog that was, but I’d just had a glass of wine, which I rarely do, and everything was a bit fuzzy that evening. Was it your blog?) I love this question. It’s so much pithier than asking someone what they write or how they write. It cuts straight to the core of this sometimes nutty thing that we Writers do. And it’s something I’ve thought about for years.
Along those same lines, when I was at the Philadelphia Writers Conference in June I had the most wonderful conversation with Gregory Frost (the man who has made me terrified of adverbs) about this exact thing. I stand by what I told him then: I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing.
I write because I’m alive. I write because it is who I am. I write because, like a shark, if I stopped writing I would die. I don’t always have to be sitting at a computer or with pen in hand to write, mind you. My brain is busy writing at least half the time I’m awake and most of the time I’m asleep.
Example: The other day I was feeling particularly *cough* lonely. I had this brain flash that if I ever won the lottery I would search out an escort service to hire myself a “research partner” for writing romance. I came up with exactly what I was looking for, an intelligent, hot young man, maybe in college or grad school and in need of extra money for tuition. He would have to be someone I could talk to, and over time we would become each other’s confidents as well as “research partners”. I mused that I would have to find a broker who knew where to find these people and how to negotiate contracts and stuff. My mind searched for the word for such a person and came up with … pimp. Hmm. Of course when I told all this to my best friend she laughed at me and said “Oh you and your stories! You know you would never do that.” *shifty eyes*
Or the time when my friend and fellow writer J.R. Tague spent days mapping out exactly what we would do and how we would live if our entire office building of 200+ employees were suddenly sucked into an alternative universe where we were the only people left after everyone else in the world mysteriously vanished in an instant. But everything else in the world would remain exactly as it was the moment people disappeared. Answer, we would move out to Lancaster county and take over a cluster of Amish farms, which are already equipped to run without electricity and would probably be very comfortable. Days we discussed this! We even took a power-lunch to discuss it over tacos.
Not to mention that every night since as long as I can remember I have put myself to bed with “bedtime stories”, my own personal movies or tv series that I let play through my mind to relax me and lull me off to sleep.
I write because stories are in every cell of my body. Any time I have ever slipped into periods of depression Writing has yanked me out of it. When I’m writing the world just seems RIGHT. The church that I was raised in has this belief that in the afterlife we will spend eternity doing a job that we love and that makes us happy. I am quite certain I will be spending eternity writing novels. And I won’t have to worry about having a roof over my head or paying bills or eating because, hey, it’s Heaven! (Conversely, Hell for me would be constant writer’s block with looming deadlines and an unending stream of rejection letters… in cold, slushy mid-February.)
Writing is hard. Not writing is even harder. And you know what? I’m a thousand times happier when I put in the work, the blood, sweat, and tears, to give form to those pieces of my soul that form themselves into stories. It’s who I am.
So why do you write?
P.S. I have another story. This story has to do with reincarnation. I’m not sure if I believe in it or not, but a part of me thinks that Writers must have lived thousands and thousands of lifetimes and that our stories are actually memories of the things we’ve known before. Not the exact details, mind you, but the essence of the relationships we’ve known, the troubles we’ve seen, and the triumphs & losses we’ve experienced. I can’t prove or disprove this theory, but it makes a great story!
UPDATE: I’ve just learned it was Melinda S. Collins’s blog where I read the original post about Why Do You Write. Thanks Melinda! 🙂