I haven’t done the Storycraft Challenge in a while, and when I saw this week’s, my brain just started going haywire.
Take a piece of paper and write “Why I Write” at the top. For at least ten minutes, write without stopping. Doesn’t matter what you write, just write whatever comes to mind, even if it seems irrelevant.
My entry is below, and if you’re so inclined, you can follow Storycraft on Twitter here.
WHY I WRITE
To put it simply, I write because I must. But, you know what? I feel like anyone who puts pen to paper or fingers to keys probably has the exact same response, and I would reckon that with a challenge like this, almost everyone will have very similar diatribes. So, is my answer an acceptable one? The question really is, I suppose, assuming this is the absolute truth, that we writers have to write, is not just why do we write, but why do we have to write?
I have always operated under the assumption that, when it comes to writers, there are two kinds in this world: those who write for fun (Tourists), and those who can’t possibly imagine not writing—like, to the point where they go crazy if they can’t create something, anything, on a daily basis (Writers). I would put myself in the latter category (why else would I be taking part in this challenge, right?), but I think this deconstruction gets to the heart of the question posed: Writers tend to have the same answers for this question because there is no middle ground. Fine, maybe you like to write for therapeutic reasons, which are all well and good, a little here and there as the ideas pop up in your gray matter, but that doesn’t necessarily make you a writer. And hell, even getting published doesn’t necessarily make you a writer (and vise versa, many Writers may never get published). For instance, I’ve met many an author who can just turn it on and dole out anything to make a buck, stuff that lacks substance (which I’ll define in a moment). Now, I’m not nagging or judging, but just saying that I think the true Writers out there, even if they can write easily with very few cases of the dreaded Block, well…the words come from somewhere deep, some sort of well buried so far in them that even if they’re writing sci-fi or erotica or historical fiction, elements of their own persona are buried in there (or, perhaps, floating on the surface). This is the Substance. The stuff that separates the men from the boys, so to speak. The one thing that takes writing to a whole new level and makes it that much more intense and real (even if the story is far from believable, genre-wise).
The point is that we Writers feel this way because this is what needs to happen for great things to be produced, and we know it. Writers write not out of a whim or because they feel there is a lucrative draw in it (there may never be for most of us), but because we have these little blobs of emotion and memories bursting to come from deep within us, and if we don’t get them out, somehow, they take us over (and not in a good way). These are the stories that need to be told, the poems that need to be written, the prose that needs to be spoken aloud. Because if we don’t, then we go crazy, plain and simple.
I find myself writing for this very same reason. And I don’t write for just anyone, either. I write for myself. Sure, fame and glory and stacks of cash would be fantastic, and anyone who says otherwise…well, I’m calling you out as a liar right here and now, but honestly, we in the latter category, we do this because we know no other way. Praise is nice, but we are storytellers first and foremost. We are the ones that keep the myths alive. Maybe it’s something ingrained in us so microscopically that we won’t ever truly understand, or maybe it’s nice and simple: that some of us were born to do this (not in the fate sense of the word, but rather, there are natural born leaders, killers, workers, etc.).
And yes, I’m aware that this sounds incredibly egotistical, but it’s not – that’s just how it is. We all have different strengths, and some of us, even though we do fall under the moniker of Writer, aren’t very good in the conventional sense, but here we are, creating. Making something out of nothing while borrowing indiscriminately from our personal experiences. The casual writer, the Tourist, they write what they see without diving in to their more primal fears and hopes and dreams. Writing is a thing of absolute and unabashed nakedness—whether you never let anyone see your work or you take the plunge into the Land of Publishing and Agents, you put yourself out there, bare naked, for the world to see. That is what Tourists don’t understand. It’s a drug, this writing. It’s embarrassing at first, maybe, to put yourself in your characters, to create worlds and stories that anyone close to you could probably dissect in a matter of minutes as having been born from your subconscious, but you get used to it. You get hooked on it. And you realize, you were born to do this, to create and to weave these little silly letters together to create bodies of text that move and inspire and madden before you go crazy.
And I guess that’s what I want to remember in in the future. That I do this because, as clichéd as it is, I have to. Because I was born to. Because if I don’t do this, I have no idea what I would do.
I am the storyteller.