Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why Do You Write?

There are many reasons to write, and so many of us do it without thinking. The cards, recipes, emails, IMs, twitters, and shopping lists are but a few of the scribbles or button punches we make throughout the day. But that's not the kind of writing I'm talking about. You knew that.

Why do I write? Why do I world build and character mold and plot thicken? What draws me back, time and time again, to the screen and keyboard?

Could it be the life style? I can picture myself now, dapper sweater layered over turtleneck and lean velvet skirt, hair fanned out down my back like mahogany jewelry. A svelte laptop slung on a battle-worn table, the coffee rings scored deep into the wooden grain. A world-weary gaze settled oh-so-importantly on my brow...

Um no. Not me. I need privacy and silence to write.

Could it be the money? I won't even bother. Nathan did it for us already. I excerpted the bit below, but check out the post yourself.

Start with a $24.95 hardcover:
$12.48 to the bookseller (50%)
$9.98 to the publisher (50% minus author/agent share)
$2.12 to the author (10% of retail minus 15%)
$0.38 to the agent (15% of 10%)

Not a huge motivator in my world. Or any world.

Could it be the prestige? "You're an author? Really? Have you written anything I would have read? Oh. Guess not. Hey, would you speak to my daughter's class? You'd be an awesome show-and-tell."

You guessed it. Probably not.

I write because I must. Because when I'm not writing, it's what I think about. Even when I'm walking or driving or talking to people, I'm dissecting and planning and revising. It's second nature. It's in the blood. But not in a bad way. I don't foam at the mouth or sink into monosyllabic utterances when denied writing time. I don't pout or throw temper tantrums. It's simply what I prefer to do with my time and energy...and it's what makes me feel the most fulfilled. I've never known anything quite like it.

And you? Why do you write? It's for the money, I bet. Or not :)


David said...

Funny you should ask.

A while ago, I tried to distill my feelings about that into an essay on my Web site. Interestingly, it gets a lot of hits, but no one has written me to either agree or disagree with it.

inlandempiregirl said...

I first starting writing to try to make sense out of events in my life. I was advised if I wrote memoir pieces I would see patterns that would help me see where I've been and where I am going. It helped. Also, I think writing helps define events for us, whether tiny ones or ones that we look back on as a turning point.

stu said...

I mostly write because I'm incredibly easily bored. Also, because it beats doing real work on the PhD.

KatW said...

Would you think badly of me if I told you that actually, unlike your good tempered self - when I don't get to write I sometimes do pout and sulk! In fact I'm beginning to realise that bad moods often come on days when I've not managed to write.

When I was ill recently I missed my characters and their story. I longed to enter their world again and enable them to continue their adventures.

I do have a lifelong dream of sharing my stories and characters and of seeing my book on a bookshop shelf.

I also feel better and gain comfort from writing in my journal and I love to write emails/letters/texts.

Why do I write? I guess I'm an addict. But I have no inclination to kick a habit that brings me so much peace.

Kat :-)

Alex Moore said...

@david: I enjoyed reading your take on the whole reason for life and writing, but i didn't see a place to leave a comment. Maybe no one else saw one either?

@inlandempiregirl: seeing patterns and making connections...sounds like the reading curriculum meeting i just got home from :) But you are so right on!! I love how you put it, that "writing helps define events for us."

Alex Moore said...

@stu: you have commented several times about using writing as a diversion to keep you from finishing your Ph.D...are you serious? Do you need a quiet, out-of-the-way place to focus and devote yourself to your work? Let me know? I have a dilapidated "cabin" in the woods that you can use. Just cross the pond and come west, young man :)

Alex Moore said...

@KatW: you make me smile. it's addictive, isn't it, this writing game? but, much like coffee and pistachio icecream, it's hardly a bad sort of addiction :)

glad you're feeling better...

Nils said...

Active escapism.

other lisa said...

It seems to be the one thing that I do consistently and fairly well.

Peter said...

I agree.. I write becuase I must. I hope it also fits in with what i want my future lifestyle to be.. sailing.. but I'll continue writing either way. :)

Thanks for the post!