I was sick over the weekend, and while that meant that I posted an old, quick blog about my lack of singing skills, it also gave me time for some good ol’ self-analysis. While I lay in bed, staring at the walls and wondering how I can feel so tired yet be unable to fall asleep, I turned my thoughts back to the dangerous topic of myself and why I do what I do. This weekend, my mind seemed determined to find out why I write, and why I’m not happy simply enjoying good stories. Why I have to write my own, rather than be satisfied with what’s in front of me.
I’ve had this internal dialogue with myself many times in the past. Because, as any writer will tell you, writing is hard work. Taking a blank page and turning into something that people not only read, but are compelled to read further is a tiring, trying task. Combine that with the difficulty inherent in finding success in the overcrowded publishing industry, and you are left with very little reason to pursue this goal.
So, why do it?
I used to think my answer was simple. Many writers say they have this kind of burning desire to write, that things come into their head and they NEED to put them to paper. I’ve never felt that, not really. I enjoy telling stories, writing characters and creating worlds. I enjoy seeing my characters interact, seeing them talk to my other characters, and see them deal with whatever trials and tribulations I send their way.
I used to think that was it. And that was enough. I found writing fun, and wanted to keep doing it because I enjoyed it.
But, over the weekend, that didn’t seem like enough.
After all, if I found writing fun, why would I want to take it a step further? Why would I care so much that what I wrote was not only good, but as good as I could make it? Why would I put so much time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into my story, when getting it out there seemed so unlikely? Why would I bother?
After all, I could keep my work to myself, never bother improving it, write only when I felt like it, and leave it alone. Why would I try to take things further?
I found my answer late one night. It was actually something I had been saying to myself numerous times in the past, but never really looked at it this way before.
I write to tell stories. To others.
My goal is not to tell stories to myself. If it was, why would I bother writing it down? I could just keep my thoughts, characters, and so on in my mind, safe from the outside world.
But what good is a story that isn’t meant to be read? And for that matter, what good is a blog that I don’t want anyone else to read?
I write not purely for my own benefit, but for those of my readers. I write to entertain them. Whether they find my work here or in my novels interesting is up to them, but I keep them in the forefront of my mind. When I write something, I always ask myself if it is something I would read on my own. If the answer is no, then I try to think of why.
If I post something online in the hopes of getting people to read it, I have to keep them at the front of my mind. After all, it’s not about me indulging myself. It’s about me engaging with readers. Novels are meant to be read and enjoyed, not about the author showing off or amusing only himself.
Writing is meant to be shared and enjoyed by others.
I want to engage others in my stories. I want them to enjoy what I write, to enjoy my characters and the worlds they live in. I don’t want to exist in a bubble. I want others to see my work, enjoy it (or hate it, if that’s the case) but most importantly, I want it to be seen by others.
That’s why I bother. That’s why I write.
Why do YOU write?