Why do we write?
Are we sharing our stories, changing the world, or avoiding madness?
It turns out that writing a first blog post can be quite a challenge. At least I think so.
“Why do I write?” was intended to be my first blog post but due to circumstances beyond my control (I didn’t like the early versions), it was pushed to a later date.
END FULL DISCLOSURE:
As I sat in front of my computer prepared for my journey of digital discovery I realized I didn’t know what to say. So, I did what anyone in my shoes would do – I Googled it.
“Google, what do I write for my first blog post?”
Google doesn’t laugh at you – yet, although I expect that day is not far off. Instead of a maniacal chuckle, the screen just displayed the fact that there were 110 million hits in response to my query. So much for being unique or standing out in a crowd. It turns out that selecting a topic for your first blog post is quite a common problem – like stepping onto something wet when you’re only in socks or when you reach into your bag and have to untangle your earbuds for the millionth time.
Why do other people write?
I began to research why people write. Not surprisingly, there were as many suggestions as there were bloggers. In fact, Twitter has a feed focused on ‘#why I write’. it has lots of followers.
I sat back and gave it a bit of thought, ok, perhaps more than a bit. I reasoned that since this would be my first post, it should be something extraordinary. At least more important than a later post which will likely focus on my wife’s most-excellent culinary skills.
So, why do I write? I wrote my first story, JOHN FASTRAMP AND THE DAKOTA 3000 CHALLENGE because I wanted to memorialize the characters. I wanted others to enjoy the stories as much as my children enjoyed them.
I turned back to my trusty Google assistant and researched some more. Another bazillion hits. I’m sensing a trend. I dug in and looked at a lot of blogs. I learned a bunch. Some things I knew, some I had not.
I knew it wasn’t to make money. Now, don’t me wrong, I’d love to make money at writing. Me and ten thousand other writers. But, I’ve been writing for long enough to understand that making a living at writing is a difficult hurdle as well as a great accomplishment. Only about XX writers make XXX dollars a year, or As Randy Ingermanson so depressingly puts it, the top 1000 writers make quite a nice living. The rest of us can’t quit our day jobs. At least we shouldn’t unless we have a very understanding and supportive spouse or a rich uncle. So, while writers certainly would like to be paid handsomely for their work, it isn’t the reason that most endeavor to persevere (Outlaw Josey Wales reference).
Do we write to be happy or because we are introverts?
Is it because it makes us happy? I believe it does. I certainly am happy when I write. But, Peter Rey, highlights the dark duality of writing with a quote from Groucho Marx who said, “it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”
Is it because we are introverts? Sitting alone in our basements, dens or garages, are we writing to connect? I think that’s painting with a broad brush. Now, I haven’t done a survey, but I would guess there are plenty of extroverts who feel compelled to write.
A familiar refrain from writers is that they want to share their stories or change the world. Both great reasons to put pen to paper. Others, want to, among reasons, inspire our children: I’m sure this is true for many.
Do we need adulation?
Is it because we crave positive feedback and appreciation? Uh, I don’t think so. If you write for adulation and Atta boys, then you may be in the wrong line of work.
Some folks believe it’s because It’s something, sometimes the only thing, at which they excel. That doesn’t apply to me. I’m much better at my day job. I think I’m a decent writer, but I want to be much better – I know I have to be. Everything I write shows me how much better I want to be: something at which I continuously work. I may have a long path in front of me, but it’s the journey, not just the destination.
Writing can be emotionally moving. Powerful. Elie Wiesel doesn’t write for mundane reasons; he writes” in order not to go mad.”
After reflecting upon the ruminations of the broader writing community, it seems to be much easier to explain why I don’t write. But, I think I write for many of the reasons that I’ve mentioned. I want to tell stories and, most importantly, I want them enjoyed. And from a small alcove somewhere in the recesses of my mind, perhaps I want to leave something behind.
My first post may not have done justice to the depth of why I write, but it gave me the opportunity to review what others are thinking and writing, in their separate, digital caves. This first post made me feel closer to people I don’t know and likely will never meet. Thousands, no millions of us, toil to write without completely understanding why.
But, it doesn’t matter why we write. The most important thing is that we do.
Keep endeavoring to persevere.