Monday, 28 July 2014

Why Write?

Several years ago a friend asked me why I like to write.

“Well, I mean,” he said, “it’s not the most exciting occupation in the world, is it. All that time, sitting alone at a computer, must get pretty boring. Don’t know why you do it.”

At the time I was somewhat taken aback.

“Dunno...I just do,” I stuttered in reply.

I’ve had a while to mull over my friend’s question now, and here’s my conclusion.

I’ve always had a liking for words. Even as a child reading was one of my favourite pastimes. So writing was a sort of natural progression; most keen readers will get the urge to pick up a pen at some point during his or her life.

Writing is never boring. There are so many things, so many topics to write about, how could writing become boring?

Writing, however, is not easy. Writing is hard work and it can be an exasperating occupation.

When I started writing I was filled with all the exuberance that starting any new project brings. But as the rejection slips flooded through my letterbox that initial enthusiasm turned to apathy and the writing became harder. During that period there were times when I thought I was a fool for believing that anyone would ever publish the twaddle I was producing. And most days I told myself to quit, before I made a complete idiot out of myself. 

I was fortunate, though. Many writers have to wait years to get that first letter telling them that their article or story has been accepted for publication. I only had to wait a matter of months. And the buzz of excitement was overwhelming when I first saw my name in print. I still get that buzz, even though I’m now a ‘battle–hardened’ scribe.

Writing is still difficult, however. There are days when I hardly have to break sweat to get words on paper, days when the words flow so fluently from my fingertips that writing becomes so easy it’s almost laughable, but those days are few and far between. Most days, writing is hard work. Very hard work.   A slog.

Then there are the deadlines to meet, the unanswered query letters to chase down and the last minute changes to pieces that some editors demand. But it’s all part of the game, and in a funny, frustrating sort of way, it adds to the excitement.

Writing can be a lonely affair. It’s not something you can do with your friends or family looking over your shoulder. When you’re writing it’s just you and your computer locked away in a room for hours on end. But I don’t mind that, I quite enjoy the solitude. When I’m writing, whatever is on the screen in front of me is my world. I think that’s part of the fun of writing; it’s my world, and it’s up to me what happens next and how it all ends. Who lives and who dies is all down to me. Now there’s a power-trip if ever there was one.

So why do I like to write, and why do I bother to do it?

Well, if the paragraphs above haven’t answered that question here’s a concise reply. I write because I enjoy writing, and because I can.

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