“Why do you write?”
I have to admit, the question caught me off guard when a friend of mine asked me the other day. I’m embarrassed to say I’d never thought much about why I write. I’ve never tried to make any money with it. I don’t keep to a particular schedule of any kind. The whole point of starting this blog was to get myself into some sort of consistent writing regimen. I’ve always loved to write. There was never a time when writing wasn’t part of my life, my identity. Still it was never something that needed a reason. It was something I did. Having had the question put to me, I decided to give it some real thought.
The first and probably main reason I write is as a means of escape. I have a happy life, great husband, great kids, friends, a home. I pay for it with a miserable, soul killing day job that drains the life force from me and converts it to American dollars which can be used to pay the mortgage or buy food. When I write, some of that life force gets replenished. Things work the way I decide they do in the worlds I create. My protagonist has a problem? Easy. I wrote her into a bind and I can write her back out. Oops! Wrote her right back into an even trickier predicament than the last one. (None of those problems, by the way, involve a particle board cubicle and a job that makes me want to cry into a vodka bottle day after endless day.) If only real life worked that way.
The next most compelling reason why I write is as an outlet of creative expression that the aforementioned hellmouth of a job doesn’t provide. Yes it allows my family to live indoors. My day job is a way to take care of my physical needs. Writing takes care of everything else.
I am not good with my hands like my carpenter/artist/engineer husband who paints, sculpts in clay, and designs and builds furniture (and drones) in his spare time. I’m not too musically inclined unless you count my daily 6 am shower concerts. I have a brown thumb. Other than having given birth (for which I can only claim half the credit), writing is the only way for me to create something that did not exist in the world before. It’s exciting to me to meet new characters and the places they live, work, dream. It’s surprising when they somehow manage to flesh themselves out, becoming real to me. New characters become old friends who work their way out of the space I’ve created for them and into a life of their own. It’s comforting, exhilarating and helps me to see my own world, with new eyes. How would my world look to this creation of mine? What might we say to one another?
I suppose I write for the same reasons millions of people do: because I’ve had to struggle through the day or the year, because I didn’t have anyone but the blank page to talk to about it, because I needed to unburden myself without burdening anyone else. Because I have stories that I need to tell. I write because not writing has never been an option for me. There is no more cathartic process than getting all of the thoughts competing for my attention down on paper where I can see them, make sense of them, discard them if necessary or transform them into something better. I’ve saved a lot of money that would have been spent on a therapist’s couch if I didn’t have writing to help me work through some of the thoughts rolling around upstairs.
I doubt I could name all the other reasons why I write or all the benefits I’ve gotten from it. Maybe that’s why I’ve never tried to earn a living from it because it’s my last refuge. I never wanted it to become a chore, an obligation. That having been said, how lovely would it be to have a job that makes me happy, that replenishes instead of drains? This is my challenge for you: think about why you write. What does it do for you? What are your goals? What your life be like if you didn’t write? I would love it if you shared your answers with me in the comments section. I really want to know why you write!