Posts Tagged Pep talk


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.

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For a friend

Why do we write?

Do we do it because we expect instant gratification?  Do we do it because we expect any kind of gratification?  Surely not, because if we’re looking for either, we’re practicing the wrong damn craft.  Do we do it for the fame?  I suspect most Americans today would be hard pressed to name 20 living, working writers without having to fall back on names like Shakespeare.  Do we do it for the money?  Because a penny a word for something that I poured my heart and soul into feels like very little in the way of compensation for my work.

Why do we write?

We write because at the end of the day, thoughts flow through our brains.  They insist upon themselves.  They put pressure on us, and they demand that they be put down into words, translated from the odd whimsies of imagination into prose and poetry.  We write because it satisfies in us some innate need, some urge that grabs us and won’t let go until we do so.  We write because we must create, because we hope that some little piece of ourselves might find its way into someone else’s brain, and once there might germinate and create new ideas, new iterations.  That it might grow.  That it might evolve.  That our ideas might become the raw DNA from which more ideas might spring forth in the future.

Why do we write?

We write because it’s a noble craft, a craft older than the words that we use to exercise it.  Cave walls in Europe speak to the insatiable need of humanity to tell stories, to pass those stories on, and to present them in a way that future generations can access them and grow and learn from the knowledge.  We write because Shakespeare wrote.  We write because Dickens wrote.  We write because Dostoyevsky wrote.  And even if we can never be as great as those men, we still push to follow in their footsteps, to be part of that same craft from which giants emerged.  Because at one point each of those giants was someone no one had ever heard of.

Why do we write?

We write because we’re writers.  We write because at the end of the day we want to sit down and subject ourselves to the often frustrating pain of creation, just so we can then bear our souls and suffer the heartbreak of rejection.  We write because being a writer is being a masochist.  Tough skin comes with the job title, and even when something hurts us, and hurts us hard, we rise again knowing that next time we will do better, next time we will achieve more, and we will be able to hold our accomplishments up high and say “see what I have done!”

Why do we write?

We write to prove wrong the people who say we can’t.  Or we shouldn’t.  Or we’re not good enough.  Or that no one reads.  We write out of spite.  Out of a single bloody-minded determination that we can.  We should.  We are.  And they will.

Why do we write?

We write because it’s in our bodies.  Our blood, our souls, our very being.

Why do we write?

Because we’re writers.

So when you’re down in the absolute pit of despair, wondering whether you should go on, just remember.  It’s okay to doubt.  That’s part of the human experience.  But also remember that you set out on this path because you felt it deep within you.  Find that feeling again.  Grab it.  Hold onto it.  Follow it down the damnedable rabbit holes that it creates through your mind and psyche.  Because in the end, far better days await you.  The marketplace of ideas is growing at a rate that is unheard of in the history of publication.  There is a hunger out there for the writer’s craft, and we exist to satiate the beast.  Even the best have bad days, or just plain bad luck.  In the end, feel sorry for yourself.  Then get up, brush yourself off, and find your next target.

Because we’re writers.

And that’s what we do.


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