Everyone seems to be in a reflective mood this week. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re all in the Winter Doldrums, going through work-related issues or just suffering existential-angst, but it’s affecting me too.
The further down the writing pathway I get, the more I think about why I write in the first place. Is it because I want fame and fortune? Hmm… not really. How about awards and recognition? Again, the answer would have to be no.
Don’t get me wrong, if I were to become famous and wealthy from writing, I wouldn’t complain. The same goes for getting recognized by others for being good at this craft.
Still, I think it’s much more fundamental than that. When I look back, I see a clear pattern of creativity. I’ve always liked making things, coming up with games, designing buildings, creating worlds.
Does that sound like you?
In High School, I thought that this creativity meant that I should become an engineer like my uncle. I remember coming home from a parent-teacher interview with my Dad. He had just met with my English teacher. Dad told me that her comments were all good right up until she asked him what I wanted to do when I finished school.
Dad knew that I wanted to be an engineer and told her so. Her comment “What a waste. He has so much talent, he should become a writer instead.” Granted, she was extremely biased towards the literary bent, but there you are.
It was around that time that I started entertaining the idea of becoming a writer. I had several authors that I avidly read including a young Canadian author who wrote for middle-school kids. I thought maybe I could follow in his footsteps. At the time, I was writing whimsical stories in typing class for my friends and having a great time doing it.
I mentioned my new aspirations to my parents. Their response? “Don’t be a writer. They don’t make any money.” I brought it up a few times more and was shot down each time. Eventually I quit talking about it and gradually I stopped writing too.
I should have ignored my parents advice and soldiered on… but I chose to go into IT Support instead (that’s where the money was, I thought).
It wasn’t until I had been working for a few years that I got back to writing, or started to anyway. The creativity that I craved simply wasn’t there. I needed more. I tried to write again. Unfortunately, after so many years away from it, writing anything coherent was a really tough go. I know that some of my SWN brethren will understand what I’m talking about.
So I persevered and kept trying to write stuff I could enjoy (I wasn’t quite to the point where I was considering an external audience). I even completed something (a short story) that I thought might be good enough to publish. And with the renewed vigor in my writing I came to realize that the job I had trained for (IT Support) wasn’t the career I ultimately wanted. It became increasingly obvious that writing was what I wanted to do.
The problem with this realization is… money, of course. Later life decisions have this… baggage attached to them. If I had started down the writing path when I was young (and single) the adaptations to lifestyle would have happened naturally. Now, I need to have a certain monthly income to keep paying the bills. Getting into my career of choice has gotten a wee bit tougher because of it.
But I still do it and that’s what makes me more certain than ever that it’s the right choice. Despite the fact that I have to “fit” my writing in amongst a full-time job, and family commitments and community commitments and going to school… it’s still important enough that I push forward.
The longer I write, the more I feel compelled to continue and the easier it gets. The first book took me 7 years to finish, the second took 20 days. While they are for completely different audiences and are different lengths, I think that says something. And I think that the writing is getting better (at least I HOPE it is).
So that, in a very large nutshell, is why I write. How about you? What keeps you going?