Randy Ingermanson “The Snowflake Guy” just started a blog for Advanced Fiction Writing. I’ve been a follower of his for a while now. If you haven’t signed up for his free newsletter, you should. Lots of great info, and he has a very unusual sense of humor to boot.
The blog is http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com/blog and his first post asks the question “Why Do You Write Fiction?” I couldn’t resist responding because until I wrote it down, I honestly didn’t really know the reason. Here’s what I wrote:
You know, here’s what’s weird. I don’t know why I write. Why do people breathe? They don’t *decide* to breathe…living bodies do it on their own for the most part. I feel like that most of the time. I didn’t *decide* to write; it just happened, and like breathing, it keeps happening.
Deciding why I *shouldn’t* write is a question I could answer. Why shouldn’t I write?
For all the reasons you mentioned—writing pays crap for the most part; writing takes dedication and years of practice to the exclusion of a lot of other things; writing opens doors for anybody who can read (and some who are barely literate) to tell you that you stink and are wasting your time; writing reveals secret parts of me that I, first of all didn’t know existed, and secondly didn’t want anybody to know about; writing has brought on a recurring and horrible pain in my shoulder and wrists; writing has required me to change my sleep schedule to accommodate the time required to produce the work—I now get up at 4 a.m. every single day and write until I have to go to my “real job”; writing forced me to step outside my comfort zone by writing letters to editors and agents I don’t know asking them to *please* read my stuff; writing has cost me money what with software, conferences, website hosting, paper, stamps…it’s not cheap.
And finally, writing is hard to do well—it’s sooo hard to do it well. I read a book like To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and I think to myself, “Holy crap. I’ll never be able to do it like that!” Did I mention that writing also gave me a massive inferiority complex?
So why do I write? People constantly find reasons for not doing it, and I understand all of them, I really do. But honestly, I think for me not writing is like fighting my body’s natural functions—like holding my breath. I can do it for a while, but I turn blue, feel dizzy, and ultimately pass out. Then I wake up, and I’m doing it again. That’s pretty much the size of it.