Why I Write

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?


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