Why do I write?

All writers have varying reasons why they write one thing or another. Yet, why write at all? Why do I write?

Charles French asked this question and challenged his readers to answer it for themselves. What follows is my attempt.

I don’t have a biography that dates back to early childhood when I would speed my way through story books and have to write my own sequels to keep the story going. I did do my local library’s summer reading contest, but sometimes I read shorter books just to boost my numbers.

I don’t have a compulsion to write where I get physically ill when I’m not producing words or building worlds. I worry about people who say that and I think they should talk to their doctor about twice-daily “settle the hell down.”

I don’t have a sense of fulfillment when I finish a piece or satisfaction when I’ve put something out there to be read. I have a strange disconnect when I put a piece of writing in the “done” box of my brain. It’s still mine, but not only mine, and I’m okay with that.

I do enjoy the process of writing, the feel of stamping out my thoughts into these little stick images of letters. I like how I can take these feelings and broadcast them to a wider audience and understand that some will resonate, others will not.

I really love writing down what I see in my head, because writing has always felt more like transcription rather than invention. I am leaning into one myth while disrupting another, but while I know that I am creating each line out of my own will and the influence of writers I’ve consumed (not literally – what have you heard?), but there is a liminal zone between the thought and my emittance of the thought that feels physical and wide, giving me the illusion of channeling a separate sphere.

It’s not. I’m just making stuff up, but it feels cool.

That’s it!

I write because it feels cool.

Why do you write?

Late Start

It’s the time of year when we make promises to ourselves and post them publicly, in the hope that it will keep us accountable.

There’s no real rule, nothing written in the universe, not even etched in the ancient ruins of past civilizations, that says you have to start anew on the 1st of January. Sure, there may be nods to a time of beginning, perhaps a cataclysmic ending that suggests a new start, but no one is going to put a ticket on your head for breaking the resolution rule. Resolutions are all about buying stuff anyway.

This year I am purposefully not buying stuff (aside from eBooks, which don’t take up room in my tiny space) because I have often begun anew with good intentions and grand designs and then wake up (usually within the first three weeks) to a stack of stuff that I’m ignoring and now have to make room for. In some places, it’s called the ADHD tax. I call it a pain.

I struggled with goal setting though, since there are actual things I’d like to and need to accomplish. I have bought and tried many systems and apps (I’ve discussed this before) but I never follow through. This is a song I’ve sung many Januarys. It’s my Auld Lang Syne.

In the past few years, I’ve seen people talk about a “word” of the year, and I think that’s part inspiring and comical. I thought about having the word “FINISH” as my word of the year for 2024, but I am acutely aware that the universe likes to take your wishes, twist them, hit you in the gut with the twist, and dare you not to say thank you. I’m not taking chances that the thing I end up finishing is myself.

Ultimately it’s a choice between whether I want to write or not write. Do I want to sit here, a year from now, and have the same conversation with myself (and then with you)? Or do I want to look back and think, that’s some stuff I got done? Go me.

I know, I know. But it’s January. Let me have my illusions.

*swish* (⊃。•́‿•̀。)⊃━⭑・゚゚・*:༅。.。༅:*゚:*:✼✿

The lonely writer

One of the best and worst things about writing (for me, that’s the caveat) is the isolation. The bliss of the work, even in the midst of a crowded cafe, when your brain is in a steady state and the words just flow, is so wonderful that my first instinct if I’m interrupted is quick, hot, and violent. Thank goodness I am getting better at keeping that under control.

The worst part of the work, when it’s going well or not going at all, when there are new worlds to build but no characters to fill it, when the characters chatter but mostly just sit around looking smug, that’s the isolation within your own brain and if I’m interrupted in that mode, I’m grateful for the distraction and frolic off into the land of “not writing.”

Writing is a collaborative art form. We are influenced by the writers who came before us and those we sit next to on the bus. The world is filled with the prose of people just living their lives and we are finely tuned to pick up those narrative strings. We are immersed in and sometimes called to direct a symphony of stories, yet up on the podium, swinging the pen, directing each measure, we are totally, desperately alone.

I don’t have a list of options to help with the isolation. You don’t need me to state the obvious: get a writer-buddy, work in a library or coffee shop, join a local writing group, find coworking online.* For this and many other oft-touted solutions to the loneliness of writing, a certain amount of agency is needed. Time, money, time, seriously, time is needed to do all of these things and for some of us, time is the most precious and least available commodity.

I’ve been listening to Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones recently (and you should too, check your library) and I believe she has the most salient answer: embrace it. 

Embrace the loneliness. 

Embrace the stillness of the moment when the world shrinks to the page only. Embrace the contours of the inside of your mind when you freewrite or journal or brainstorm. Embrace the moments where it’s just you and your world and only you know the secrets of your characters. Embrace this time when all of this is yours alone, before you unleash it into the wild. 

Loneliness doesn’t have to be negative. It can represent the space in which we do some of the deep and good work of our mind.

Embrace the solitude and fall into your writing. 

*Apparently I gave you a list anyway.

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