Fantastic hash tag today on Twitter, being pushed by Neil Gaiman, asking people why they write. I gave a short answer, since that’s what Twitter is meant for, this is my longer response.
I’ve asked myself the question multiple times since I first started writing nearly a decade ago. Except, it’s not normally phrased “why do I write?” but “why the hell am I putting myself through this?” or “why am I doing this to myself?” Writing ain’t easy, sometimes it isn’t even fun, yet something pushes me to keep going, to keep doing it. In the end it boils down to three things.
I write because I’ve got stories in my head. It’s my way of getting them out. It’s my way of seeing if other people like those stories. It’s a release. I’ve never liked the concept of stories insisting upon themselves, of characters who “take over” and drive a short story or novel. Perhaps that’s just because my stories, my characters, don’t work that way. But they are still there, running around my brain, and I think I’d go rather mad if I didn’t let them out. Madder. I’ve only ever lived in my own head, so I don’t know how others work. I assume everyone has stories. The line that some just choose to cross is writing them down.
I write because the community of writers is awesome. I see this at Capclave every year, at the other conventions I go to. It’s a welcoming community of friendly people who celebrate each others’ successes. Surely that can’t be every writer, though I suspect those who don’t feel that way aren’t really go-to-conventions types anyway. I saw it first hand in the way writers who I know and respect were willing to take a few minutes of their time to help out my silly little writing marathon on Saturday. Because, in the end, writing is not a zero sum game. One person’s success doesn’t have to come at the expense of everyone else. That’s a community I want to be part of, and one day I hope I can give others the support I’ve even already received.
I write because it’s fun. Okay, yes, that contradicts what I said earlier. Writing is often not fun. Editing is almost never fun. But the end goal, that’s fun. Having created. Few more awesome feelings than that. Only one I can think of is the validation that comes when I’ve had something I’ve created picked up for publication. The idea that a complete stranger thought enough of what I produced to include it in a volume with their name on the cover as editor. May that sensation never get old. May I never get used to it.
So there it is. There’s my answer as to #whyIwrite. If you’ve got your own, share it on Twitter with the hashtag, or if you want here in the comments. Then get back to it.