Many books and websites are devoted to explaining how, when, and what authors write, but it seems like I haven’t seen all that much about why the hell we do this thing. Why do we—grown adults, mind you—spend several hours a week shut off from our loved ones making up stories?
We could be devoting that creative energy to painting pictures to share with the world. We could be in rock bands, jamming into the wee hours. We could be walking, drinking, running, living, loving, dancing, cooking, clapping, or any number of other activities.
And yet, we write. Why?
I write because I’m a dad.
Before my daughter was born, I mostly wrote poetry. Shortly after becoming a dad, I suddenly had stories to tell. I’m not sure what the connection is, but I’m grateful for it. Maybe being a dad caused me to put down the roots necessary to spawn a novel. Maybe I wanted to create some kind of legacy for my daughter. Maybe I was just looking for an excuse to ramble on…
I write because I’m an anxious asshole otherwise.
By nature, I tend toward anxiousness. My brain is like a wild dog. Given free reign, it’ll wander into the most horrible notions and nightmarish scenarios. But when I’m working on a story (and I’m always working on a story, every day), my mind chews on those characters instead of me. So, I think about terrible things that can happen to my characters, instead of me. Sucks to be them. Yay me.
I write because I’m good at it.
As early as high school, I knew I had a knack for writing. Be it an essay written after donating blood and downing a beer or an exercise in metaphors, I was good at wrasslin’ words.
I write because I have a story to tell.
The thing is, I suck at telling stories. I can tell a joke. I can toss out a one-liner. But telling a good story—like out loud? Not my strong point. It’s something I’m working on, though. But I enjoy telling a story in print. Writing it out gives me the time to massage the story into something more coherent and (hopefully) entertaining.
I write because I read.
When I was a wee boy, I used to leave the Enon Mound Library most every week with a ginormous stack of books. I’d spend hours immersed in the adventures of the Hardy Boys or struggling through one of Sherlock Holmes’ cases. I loved losing myself between those pages, imagining everything happening between the lines. The thought that I can do that for someone else—that I can provide a similar experience for other readers—is frankly mind-blowing. It humbles and delights me.
I write because it’s easy.
Yeah, I said it. Writing comes easy to me. I don’t struggle through writer’s block. I don’t beg and plead with my muse. I don’t brood for days and days about my characters. I’m not saying that I don’t work at it. Oh, hell. I work my ass off. I work hard at writing, but it isn’t hard work.
I write because I like to make blank pages darker.
Yeah, that’s kinda my tagline. I figure if I mention it often enough, it’ll catch on.
I write because I like to make people laugh.
During my day job, the absolute best part of my day is when I email something to someone, and they email me back to tell me that my words made them laugh out loud. I take great joy in bringing a smile to someone’s face through the written word. I figure it’s easy in-person. You can use inflection and funny faces and sometimes sound effects. But to make some smile—nay, laugh—just through a bunch of neatly arranged letters? That’s bad ass.
I write because it’s hard.
I love epic roadtrips, long hikes, big ideas, and heart attack-inducing workouts. I’m naturally attracted to tasks of great scale, almost superhuman achievement. And really, writing a novel is just such a thing. It takes about an hour to write a thousand words. If you figure a novel to be around 50,000 words, that’s 50 hours—over two days—sitting and typing, not even including rewrites and revisions and final edits. Think about the sheer will it takes to do that. It’s epic in every sense of the word.
I write because it’s fun.
I genuinely enjoy creating new characters and putting them in exciting—often dreadful—situations. They always surprise me in the end. The story never goes quite like I expect it to. I create the characters, but in many ways they create the story. And it’s a blast to discover it with them.
So, those are some of the reasons I write. The list above is not all-inclusive, and I expect I’ll eventually do a sequel post to this one someday soon, listing still more reasons. Thank you for reading. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Oh, and I guess that brings me to one last reason . . .
I write because of you.