Radio Free Bard

Why write?

Posted in Writing by radiofreebard on November 17, 2008

A regular reader, the lovely Carmen Forward, ‘tagged’ me in the comments of my last post. This, upon further investigation, means that “I have to list 6 or 7 random things about myself, link back to those that tagged me and tag 6 or 7 more people.”

I’ve never subscribed to any form of chain-letter or chain-communication and so won’t be ‘tagging’ anyone. Despite this I am eager to write something about myself that may be useful to others.

I’ll explore my reasons to write so that the territory doesn’t feel so unfamiliar when you trek through it yourself.

Why do I write?

I am a storyteller. I primarily write to tell a story and to cause an emotional response in the reader. I feel that what I have written is useless if I fail in doing so. This is not an expectation I apply to other writers; we all have our own reasons for writing. I remember the books where I cried, where I laughed, where I felt erotic. I keep the books that can generate those emotions the second, third or fourth time I read them.

I write to chase the glory I heap upon my favourite authors when I respond to their work. I know the deep emotional appreciation I feel when an author gently reaches into my chest and then rips my heart out. I know how alive I feel when I join a character in maniacal laughter. I know how grateful I feel to have a part of me come out in a character. I want to learn that process, master it and offer it to others in the same spirit as it was offered to me.

Why do I write to be published

There is a difference. I write for one reason and yet my published work was written for a different reason. The reason for which my published work was written was contribution. I have always felt that one of the few obligations authors must accept is that their work must contribute to something. I can take my writing more seriously when I feel that I have given first and asked to receive second. This is not self sacrifice; I choose to have my work taken seriously by virtue, not by default.

All aspiring authors need to ask themselves why they should be taken seriously. If you can’t answer that question, think harder. If your answer is ‘because I should be shown that respect as a human being’, you are correct, but generally unpublished in today’s world. If your answer is ‘because my muse plus my talent equals something enjoyably significant for myself and others’, you will go far.

Don’t misunderstand me, I have written and been published for my own purposes as outlined above, but my primary source of work and income has been to write for somebody else’s muse.  I have been published twice before for something written completely of my own impetus but both times under pen names. Don’t bother asking the names of the books, I’m not here to impress you.

Why do I write instead of pursuing something else

If I could contemplate doing anything else I wouldn’t write. Bill Leaf was reported in this weekend’s Australian as having said something similar about his art. I write because it’s the only thing I look forward to when I wake up in the morning. I write because it’s the only thing that exists in both my manic and my depressed worlds. I write because it’s pure and it’s fun and it’s mine and it’s ancient.

I write for others but I weave stories for myself. I found style in the faith that my life was fertile soil for messages with meaning. I bow to the advice of those that came before me and I take that advice and hammer it into my own weapon. To do this well is to have an armoury. To do this poorly is to have artistic cancer.

I hope that this small and admittedly unrevealing insight into my life helps others with their own art. It took me a long time to discover where I stand on the topics in this post. I hope it helps.

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