Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why write?

Yesterday I mentioned that I write because I like it and that got me thinking about the reasons writers—supposedly—write. It’s apparently one of those ‘big’ questions that you ought to know the answer to.

I’ve come across a number of reasons given for writing, ranging from the urge to see something published to the desire to entertain people to the need to quiet the voices in one’s head. The first two sound to me like carefully prepared answers—probably by writers who came across the ‘you ought to know the answer’ idea.

This does seem to be a question levelled at unpublished writers, with the idea that you should examine why you write and if the reason isn’t profound, or you don’t have a clue, then you should give up. Like we don’t hear that already.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to write and always scribbled away in some form or another. I bet if you went back in time and asked my five year old self “Why do you write?” you’d get a deeply profound answer along the lines of “Because.” And yes I know that’s a word, not an answer, but have you tried telling any child that? I was no different, I’m sure.

As usual, I digress.

Returning to the third answer, I think that was probably an off-the-cuff honest response. Of course it could have been equally contrived and crafted to impress, except the only people who know about the voices are other writers, and they generally don’t care why anyone writes. They may be interested in how or where or when or even how often, but not why. They don’t care why they write, let alone anyone else.

Why do I write? Because. Because I can. Because it’s fun. Of course I want to be published and paid and of course I hope readers will enjoy the stories but those aren’t the reasons I do it. They aren’t why, they’re after the fact.

I write. Why not?

1 comment:

Kiki said...

I am one of those people that is fascinated by the answers people give to "why do you write."
It gives you an insight into where they're at, what kinds of writers they are, and hence what kinds of stories they will tell you.

Some people write out of pleasure or necessity. Some write out of a twisted business sense with dreams of making money.
Some are too stubborn to quit. Some are too anxious to really start.
Some are off with the fairies, with voices in their heads and dancing muses in the basement. Others are craftspeople, hammering at every word until it fits.

We all walk our own way as writers, but you're right. At the end of the day, we write just because.