This Writing Journey

Why Write

Why do I write?

That’s something the psychiatrist asked.

And I was stumped.

There’s a love of world-building – like JRR Tolkien, creating Middle-Earth, replete with its races, their languages, their dwellings, the history and how everything had come to be, Sauron and the One Ring, and the way the little people, the Hobbits, could play such an instrumental part in the greatest conflict of them all.

I enjoyed that – building something where nothing had previously existed, knowing that I breathed life into these characters, that I painstakingly constructed the world they inhabited, that I devised their rules of magic and law and society, that I could set characters on a path against great evil, and that despite their many obstacles and hardships, they would inevitably triumph.

But I didn’t say that.

I could’ve talked about fame and fortune – as a teenager, that’s what I thought happened. Surely writers made money. And grew famous. I didn’t understand the industry, didn’t know that most writers don’t live off their writing, that most writers still worked full- or part-time jobs, that a lot of writers endured underperforming books. I thought writing meant wealth.

But I also thought of that as a by-product, rather than a motivation.

I could’ve talked about some intrinsic need to write, some insatiable desire that drove me to tell stories, about the way my imagination kept ticking over, conjuring this story, conceiving others, creating scenes to stories I didn’t even know yet existed, or how sometimes those scenes met up and became a part of a bigger narrative, that even when I daydreamed, even when I fantasized, I concocted the narrative voiceover in my head.

But they were just things that existed, rather than reasons.

I could’ve talked about wanting to share my story with a greater audience because, sure, there was an element of that – Bryce Courtenay said until a reader picks up a book, it’s just words on a page, that the act of reading is what makes it a story. And I did want to share with a greater audience (if not the greatest audience possible).

But that was just another knock-on effect.

I could’ve said that writing’s a reinterpretation of (my)self, that I take my own experiences and channel them through my characters, my events, and try to make sense of them, try to make sense of what I was going through, try to find meaning in stuff that was too great for me to explore, process, and understand consciously.

But as true as that can be, it certainly wasn’t the driver.

I could’ve said that by wrangling shit into some psychological context, that in giving shape to my own demons, I was creating a metaphorical background where my characters, my champions, triumphed, and in triumphing I overcame my own issues.

But that would’ve just been some wanky bull.

These are all things I’ve considered over the years, though, as I’ve gotten older, more experienced, cynical, pensive, jaded, and all that, and I realize (in writing this) that they’re all irrelevant.

They’re labels to qualify some importance, if not pretentiousness, where none exists.

I write because that’s who I am, for good, bad, or indifferent.