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Why Write?

April 16th, 2009

This is probably a little overdue. After all, if I’m going to make the decision to get into writing and make a go of it, I should at least know why I’m doing it! And if I’m going to blog my experiences, I guess I should share my reasons too. In any case, it is worth thinking about for any aspiring writer.

I have not always been into writing. Actually, that’s not strictly true. What might be more accurate is of the creative things I’ve wanted to really get into and achieve something in, writing was not always my primary focus. In truth, it has always been there. Even in primary school I would write stories that were much longer and take longer to finish than the other kids. Wouldn’t it have been great if I’d decided that was what I really wanted then, instead of a lot of distraction in between. Then it might be a whole lot easier now.

Even so, when asked,”why do you want to write?” I struggle with an answer. Although I have things I want to say, they are not particularly Earth-shattering. I don’t imagine for one minute that I am some kind of genius whose idea will change the world, or even that I have a genuinely original idea (if there are any left at all). That’s not to say that any writing I do will not have some kind of value, but simply that I don’t have a message that I must tell that makes me want to write.

A part of me wants to give that typical writer’s answer, “I have to”. A lot of writers will describe their vocation as a natural imperative for them that they can’t escape from. I don’t really like to use that answer because it implies a desperation to it. I imagine a stressed-out, wild-haired typist, surrounded by screwed up notes and feverishly hammering at the keyboard or pressing his fingers to his temples. All because he has to write.

That person is not me. On the contrary, I often suffer from a lack of the motivation strongly suggested by the phrase above. Nevertheless there is some truth to it. As I mentioned, writing has been present in my life for most of it (on and off). And since I made an actual decision at uni that I liked writing and wanted to take it further, it has occupied a permanent lot in my mind. Writing has existed as a kind of background noise, as if the owner of that lot is playing their music too load. During my day to day life, and unbidden, I might start thinking about a story I had dreamed up but never written, or just thinking to myself that one day, I would give that writing lark a proper go.

So, I could decide not to pursue it. I could end up with a loving family, and a successful career, and in a great many ways, that would certainly be enough. I’m sure in fact that I could remain very happy with that. But throughout, there would always be this nagging buzzing just out of proper hearing, saying, “okay, that’s all fine. But isn’t there something else you should be doing too?”

So that is why. Is that enough? I guess that would depend on who you asked. For some people that certainly would be enough. For the majority of people, I would guess not. But, you’re asking me, and I will make it enough.

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