Last night, I attended a meeting of minds. Specifically, it was a publication meet-up group that focuses on the business of writing.
The leader of the group posed the question: Why do you write? She then went on to say that Making millions of dollars is probably not a great reason to write. It happens, but so does winning the lottery.
So, if not for fame, fortune and your name on the New York Times Bestseller List… why write?
I write because….
…. I have to. Words and passages come to me, flow through me and beg for escape. Characters reveal their stories to me, sometimes in a whisper, and sometimes so loudly that I can hardly stand it. The only way to quiet the storm is to put it on paper.
… I want to. Writing is cathartic, freeing and energizing. It’s a party for my soul. I feel lighter, happier and more alive after writing.
… I enjoy sharing my work. I love it when friends, family members or perfect strangers read my work and take something from it. Maybe I’ve shared wisdom, or a laugh. Maybe I’ve given them a new perspective, or simply entertained them for a while. For whatever reason my writing gives enjoyment, I am fulfilled.
… I need the challenge. I describe myself as a conduit for the inspiration I receive. Sometimes it’s a deluge. Other times, I have to coax it out of the ether. And when I’m “done” writing a story, the real work begins. I enjoy the process of being critical with myself. Taking that lump of raw clay that is the first draft and shaping it into the molded sculpture it was meant to be is a challenging, rewarding process.
… I like hanging out with other writers. We are a quirky, odd lot. We say things off the cuff that cause normal people discomfort. For the most part, writers are quick of wit and sharp of tongue. I can be my odd self in a group of writers.
… I love the dichotomy of a writer’s life. I am part introvert, part extrovert. I have to be. In order to write, I need to be comfortable with long stretches of time alone with my computer or notebook. I can add, if I so choose, music, coffee, the company of a cat, breaks for long walks, or trips to a café or bookstore. But then I have to pull myself out of my word-cave, and face the world. I have to be my own best cheerleader, putting myself out there where I meet people, network and market my works.
… I love words. Besides being a writer, I’m also a musician and an artist. I have realized over time that I feel the most expressive when I’m putting words on paper. I love performing with a band. It’s exhilarating and fun to mesh with other musicians and create beauty out of silence. But if I’m completely honest with myself, I hate practicing. I do it, because it’s required. But it’s a means to an end. I also love sketching and painting, but I almost never finish what I start because the drive and inspiration doesn’t last. But with writing, I tuck myself into my own little universe and I go on long, transcendental walks. I feel, see and hear the words as they hit the page. They are my friends and my confidants. They are the surest medium for the expression of my inner soul.
I have seen the quote “Do what you love and the money will follow” attributed to about a dozen different people. I think the reason why is because it’s not so much one person’s inspired idea, but a general rule for life. I have no delusions that I’m going to be the next J.K. Rowling. It would be awesome to hit that gold mine, but it’s not why I write.
I write, because writing is what I love.