Yesterday, I started writing a somber, angst-ridden post. I guess the title and the hearts are clues this is not that post. My last post was a bit of a downer. Some of your comments led me to search my soul, question my Muse, and whine to some friends. Oh yeah, I can be a real joy.
The conclusion? I’d stopped writing for the sheer love of writing and started writing with the mindset of production. My work had ceased to be a creative expression and become merely a commercial product. I’d tried to force it. I worked on four different books. But ultimately, I ground to a halt.
Then a friend asked me to read the blurb for her next book, and the wheels started turning. Her blurb reminded me of one of my book ideas. I’d written up some notes and a couple of opening paragraphs. I looked for the file. It took me two hours because I couldn’t remember what I’d named the file, plus I thought I’d started it last year. When I finally found the right file, it had a nondescript name and was dated ’09.
I read what I’d worked up and realized the original idea wouldn’t quite work … but then … oh, then the floodgates opened! I could change this. I could tweak that. And—Oh!—what if this happened? I got so excited that I couldn’t write fast enough and had to go back to the computer to type.
I had doubts. “Is this crazy?” I asked myself. “Can I do this in my “genre”? “Could this be a good story?” I emailed a friend. She wrote back, “I think it would be great!” And that was confirmed when I remembered one of my favorite quotes:
“Listen to Mustn’ts, child, listen to the Don’ts.
Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.
Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.
Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.”
So, I’m off and running. I’m writing, writing, writing. I’m in love again.
Write what you love, dear readers. Life’s too short not to.
I write fiction; if you write non-fiction, most of what I’m going to say won’t apply to you. Why do you write? I’m sure you’ve been asked that question. You’ve probably given an answer. I have—more than one—but those were quasi-truths. At the time, my answers were valid. I just hadn’t put enough thought into the question.
These things I’ve always known:
- I don’t write because I have to. Writing is not the reason for my existence. Nor do I need to support myself.
- I don’t write because I have some great message for the world.
- I don’t write because I think I’m a better writer than 90% of those published.
So, why do I write?
- I do write to entertain myself.
- I do write because I like playing with words. Seriously.
- I do write to clear some of these stories out of my head.
But, for me, the real question is why do I write what I write? Why are all my stories character-driven? Why are they all set in the real world (or real world plus a supernatural element)? Why are they mostly dark?
What the heck am I trying to work out?!
That’s what it comes down to for me. I write because I’m trying to figure out something. I’m searching for an answer. Maybe more than one. Probably more than one. Or am I just trying to discover the questions? I might not be ready for the answers yet. Hmmm … I must keep writing.
So, tell me—really—why do you write?
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My friend Kasie reminded me I’m supposed to be developing my ego, so today I’m going to shamelessly quote myself. In one of my early posts, I wrote:
None of us are truly creators. Writers can only share our version of what was, or is, or might be. Are the best writers those with the most memories? Do writers have better than average memory retention? Do our memories inspire us to write in the first place? Is imagination really memory?
I’m fascinated by the nature of memory. Supposedly, every single thing we’ve ever seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted is recorded in our brains. A brain surgeon can probe a group of cells and instantly we taste the bite of pizza we were chewing at 5:17pm on 3 June 1982. Doesn’t that amaze you?
So then, why is our memory selective? Why do we choose to forget some pleasant things, yet remember painful ones. Is this how we form our personality? Is this how we form our very existence? And what is the nature of existence anyway?
Uh … yeah, going a little too deep there.
But I’m beginning to see the pattern in my musings. Maybe I should just rename this blog to Dreams, Memories, Writing since I connect them so often here. I think all three are ways we process our lives. We have little control over the first two and, on the best level, over the third, too. Flannery O’Connor said: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
That’s what our memories, and dreams, and writing are for: to find out who we are and what we think and why we’re here in the first place.