Why write?

I can’t imagine anyone is wont to asking writers why they write any more than I’ve heard of them asking painters why they paint – which is, to say, not at all.

Well, exceot scholars and writers. They come up with Theories: to entertain, to inform, or to persuade.

That sounds so clinical, doesn’t it? I suppose it is true, though it tends to be said in a fashion that could be interpreted as they are each mutually exclusive. That a persuasive piece couldn’t be, also, entertaining and informative. It doesn’t actually say this because, obviously it can be any mix of the three. Though I would venture to say that the idea that a story is meant to be one of these, then it cannot be all of them (or two of them) equally.

It also doesn’t really answer why. That’s more of a category of what: something entertaining, persuasive, or informative. Why is, I think, a need to share.

We need to share our point of view, our knowledge, our experiences, our thoughts, feelings, and even our imaginations. Simply: we have a story to tell. Even a travel guide, in a twisted you-have-to-squint-to-see-it way, is a kind of story that someone wanted to tell about where the best places to eat in Morocco or Jamaica are. It could be written entertainingly – take the Volo’s Guide series for the Forgotten Realms D&D setting (what? I never claimed not to be a geek) as an example, they may be travel guides for a fictional place, but that doesn’t mean they had to be fun to read.

I write, and I think all the authors I’ve met and spoken to agree, we write because the voices won’t go away, won’t shut up. But those voices are the idea; they’re the data clamoring to be free; the ringing, Martin Luther King-esque, gripping speeches and essays; and they’re the epic tale of intrigue, romance, and a hamster in a tutu.

Oh, I’m sure that plenty of people write for a paycheque. Staff fiction writers, certain non-fiction writers, technical writers, etc. How often, though, is the staff written novel as good as the freelance stuff? How often the non-fiction work dry and dull, only able to hold your attention because the data it provides is just fascinating?

Still, even they: we write because we must. Some, it’s to eat. Others it’s to be heard. To more it is because we have to know what happens next.

My own fiction. I can discuss wanting to write a sweet, lighthearted, happy homosexual teen romance because I saw an absence of such and felt this unpardonable. I could discuss how I hoped that Sally and Lauren’s sexuality being treated as secondary to the plot and its events – merely a catalyst for certain conflicts and growth – might show that homosexuality isn’t anything more significant about who a person is than the colour of her eyes. I could discuss how I hope that by showing two normal girls in a healthy, loving relationship that people might get it through their heads that LGBT people are still people. And it’d all be true … to a point. Yes, I saw this lack of bright gay fiction. Yes, I did feel that the story should be about love, friendship, etc. I also told myself I had no interest in trying to write such a thing. The story wanted written … I had a tale that needed told. I had no choice.

This isn’t at all the same as where the inspiration comes from. I think, for some, the voices that won’t let you not write can be bill collectors, yourself, sneering detractors, and other very real voices. These can be rather different voices than the ones that give us fiction authors our inspiration and narrative.

Look at it this way: if I didn’t have thoughts and ideas that wouldn’t leave me alone, I wouldn’t have written this or its predecessors. Some of you might think that would have been a blessing if I hadn’t, but regardless it’s true. These posts are simply a compulsion to share what’s on my mind – well, some of it. I can’t understand the people who feel the need to share their inner turmoil over whether to have spaghetti or stir-fry for dinner.

I haven’t the slightest idea if this posts makes any sense, but I feel better having said all this.

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