Why do you write? This question is posed to most writers (pre-published and published) at least once in their lives. There is a standard answer to this particular question. I think it is issued to each aspiring writer along with a thesaurus, a bottle of wine, an extra large economy sized box of chocolate, and a lifetime supply of crying towels.
Because I HAVE to.
Sounds great, right? Angsty, dramatic, poetic. I mean, why else would anyone put themselves through the hours toiling away at a keyboard, the rejections and uncertainty? Why else would a person sit alone in a room for hours on end, hours they could spend with family, friends or the male members of the cast of True Blood? (Hey, I’m asking the questions here! I can dream about spending time with whomever I please!)
If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.
See! Even Byron agrees! Of course, if his life is an example of the sanity saving effects of writing to empty one’s mind, we are ALL in trouble. And destined to have an affair with a sibling. Maybe he just needed to write more, a lot more!
But, if there is only one answer to this question, what about those people who don’t write because they ‘HAVE’ to? I conducted a little poll of several groups of writers to whom I have access. Some of them gave the prescribed answer in one form or another, but some did not. And some of those who did not are published writers! SHOCKING!! TRAVESTY!! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! How dare they?
I think, perhaps, there are as many reasons writers write as there are writers. I mean, I like to write, even when it is going badly. I LOVE to write when it is going well. But, if something happened and I didn’t write another word I don’t think I would end up shuffling down the street in my bathrobe mumbling to myself. (Actually, I intend to do just that the first week after I sell a book. And I may do it for a month if I ever sell enough books to quit my day job!)
I had a long and successful career as an opera singer. I spent years training for it. I worked my derriere off to achieve it. And I walked away for a variety of reasons without losing my mind. (I was already crazy, so I didn’t have much to lose.) I did it because I had a talent for it, I had the opportunity to train for it and I was lucky enough to be able to do it for a living. I hope to do the same with my writing and for those very same reasons.
Stephen King gave up writing after the horrible accident that almost killed him. The only reason he went back to it was because he was getting on his wife’s nerves (retired husbands tend to do that from what I understand!) and she insisted he get his butt back in the chair. But he would probably have done just fine whether he went back to writing or not. He certainly had nothing to prove.
So here is my question. Why do you write? And do you believe writers write for reasons personal to themselves or do their reasons have to be of the ‘I must write or I’ll die’ persuasion? Who decides if someone is a real writer? And how important is it that we respect each other’s reasons for getting back in that Mercedes time after time and running into those brick walls?