Monday, September 22, 2008

Why do you want to be a writer?

This is what I think of as a trick question. When this question is presented to a group of people in environments only writers or wannabe writers will be found in, the question can be profoundly difficult to grasp and answer.

My first response is Why do you ask? Why do you want to know why I want to be a writer? Maybe a better question for the presenter is What do you think a writer is? Do you believe that a writer is a person who writes with the singular goal of building a career? Is it a person who desires to convey ideas to others? Is it person who wants to entertain others with fiction? Is it a person who believes himself or herself superior knowledge-wise, and qualified to dictate directions for other people to follow?

In other words, must a writer have a goal? A destination he can verbalize into a capitalist gain?

Why do you want to be a writer? Why take on a craft, and writing is a craft, that is solitary and fraught with disappointment and rejection?

Each of us has a unique reason. Those that do not, those of us who respond with a stock answer such as "I want to be like Stephen King," do not understand writing.

Writing is, to me, different from being a writer. I write because I want to, have wanted to since I was a young teenager. Writing lets me go places in my mind I cannot go outside my mind. Writing lets me meet people I'd like to meet and know, and some I'd rather not meet and know, that I won’t have the opportunity to meet out in the "real" world.

Writing lets me work out and express frustration, joy, loneliness, sorrow, anger, and love. My characters walk paths I put them on to accomplish goals I set that should prove too difficult for the average man or woman.

My characters meet villains, heroes, and average people from all walks of life, males, and females, young and old. Writing is about life, about interacting and coexisting on a planet where there is no escape from life except through death, as far as we know.

No, the question to be asked is not why do you want to be a writer. The question that should be asked is why do you write?

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1 comment:

Helen Ginger said...

I guess, without taking a whole page to answer, I write because it's what I love to do.

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