For me, this question inevitably pops up time and time again; and every time it does, I see fit to answer it rather than ignore it in the hopes that it will go away. After all, what is the harm in doing so? Every time I think about it, I recall more and more things that I thought I had forgotten over the passage of time. That’s always entertaining, if highly embarrassing at times.
Now, there is no real need for me to point out the obvious, but of course, I will go on to do so – the obvious being that there are a great many reasons why people actually write. I won’t bore you with a list, but I will say that such reasons can be both selfish and selfless, and I don’t feel that it particularly matters which as long as the process itself is enjoyable.
I could make this an extremely short post and state that this in itself is why I write. Because I enjoy it. But I’m a little more self-indulgent than that, and yes, I am going to take the time to make what might have been a simple response into something more like an essay. Besides, I have the feeling that I might look back upon this answer in the near future and wonder what, exactly, I was taking when I decided to write this, or else whether or not my perspectives on this have changed. While it may seem highly unlikely now, there is always the chance that I will quit writing forever; while I would like to think this an impossibility, the fact remains that nothing or this ilk is inevitable.
On with the show, however. I started writing through a simple need to place myself in the story. Yes, I was a shameless fan of this, I did it to death; the worst part, possibly, is that I didn’t even notice that I was doing it until it was too late. My excuse is that I was perhaps eight or nine when this idea started, and twelve when I actually penned this, and so, it was an occurrence that did not seem so out of place. Nobody pulled me up on it, either. Ultimately, this did not matter to me at the time because there was an incredible kind of fun that came from writing this character – essentially writing myself into the story – that made me feel untouchable in this respect, regardless of whether or not I decided to share this with the world. In the end, I did.
Fanfiction was never going to be enough for me, however. The unfortunate limitations of a world that someone else has labored over begin to feel a little cheap after some time, and it is always possible to feel like a cheat for using them. Of course, I did not have such adult emotions and conflicts to guide me at this stage, simply the notion that I wanted to continue to have fun, because this was what it was for me; if I could ‘create’ (I say this under duress) a character and a plot to revolve around her inside this world, then could I not create something entirely from scratch, utilizing what entertained me?
Praise, I will admit, spurred me on somewhat. Honestly, what twelve-year-old wouldn’t want to be bolstered by credit to both their own ability and feeling of self-worth, especially when my self-worth generally lest a lot to be desired? My writing back then was not exceptional by any means, but of course, I was not aware of this. What mattered was that people enjoyed it. I did not have any particular message to send, or any complicated, adult emotions to deal with, only a sense of what entertained and enthralled me which I used for my own dealings. I supposed late adolescence changed all of this somewhere along the line.
And so, in time, I would learn that nothing stays the same forever.
By the age of seventeen I felt a contrived need to place an excessively political message in anything I wrote, undercutting what might have been a story. All of the social injustice I felt, the cruel truths I had come to learn, the things that I was so blissfully unaware of young came to be, and honestly, any writing I did shot through with what I considered to be a just cause did not come out well at all. There will always be factors in our lives that influence our writing. It is learning to harness them, not allowing them to overwhelm us that is the complicated part, and something I so clearly missed I am stunned that I did not see it sooner. Such is life, however. At this time, I was writing because I felt like I had a message to send, that I needed to stand up and say something and the world needed to listen. Naive? Me? Inconceivable.
I cannot say I have ever resented writing, however. I have had varying reasons to do it, but the reasons I have kept doing it aren’t particularly quantitative; I enjoy it. There is more to it than this, of course – the most prevalent part is the freedom I feel it gives me, just like when I was younger, my imagination, for the most part, has free reign. There was the stage where I had no concept of an audience, the stage where I wanted nothing but an audience, and now I feel I am at the stage where I am ambivalent towards this. There is some work I am willing to show off, and some work I write purely for my own amusement. There are short stories I write for the sake of writing them, for the sake of stretching my, uh, fingers and getting back into the habit after time off. There are articles I write to do little more than boost my own ego, fantasizing that I am a well-paid journalist whose work is in high esteem with most readers. There is little else I do to entertain myself; that portion of writing I do not do anything with is, quite simply, that.
Now for the part that is not particularly novel. Writing is an escape for me, too. Like most people, I have hopes and dreams. Like most people, I also have things that I wish to escape. When concentrating on a life so far removed from my own, this is exactly what I am allowed to do.
So I suppose you might say that I am one of those writers who is mostly selfish. There was, and to a lesser extent, still is a spark within me that hopes that my writing might just touch one person out there, like the works of various authors have done for me. There’s the idea that my writing, one day, might give someone something to look for again, something to aspire to or hold on to, because losing faith in everything is dark, it is a dull and hopeless place to be. The smallest of passages can re-ignite a spark and thus the notion of caring for something – anything – once again. I would be lying if I said I didn’t write for myself. I would also be lying if I said that I thought this was likely to happen any time soon, as it most likely won’t.
It might though.