Wednesday 2 March 2011

Why I Write

I keep meaning to write some kind of blog post on why I write. I normally trot out the same old schlock about how I've always written, and it's never really occurred to me not to. Stories pop into my head and I write them down. As the meerkat would say, "Simples."

However, while that is still true, I think it does go deeper than that. After all, I've always been able to run but it doesn't mean I do (I don't, as it happens. I prefer swimming and Pilates as forms of exercise. Running looks so...ungainly) Yesterday I posted the link to my story, The Sought After Smile, which had been published in the new issue of Luna Station Quarterly. The link was shared on Facebook (seriously, what did we do before social networking?) and someone posted a comment to say it had really cheered them up after a crap day. You know what I did? I smiled (and I am not an inherently cheerful person).

Do you know how ace that feels, to know that something you wrote actually helped to improve someone else's day? That a simple work of fiction could cheer someone up in just a few moments? Ah, escapism. You can't beat it. I suppose I whiled away many a lonely hour as a child, caught up in an Enid Blyton adventure or whizzing through another Roald Dahl, and if I'm completely honest, I still seek solace in books now. To my mind, if I can provide someone with a few moments away from the troubles and stresses of their existence, then that is a job well done.

Yes, it's true. I have no lofty pretensions to creating high art, to leaving a literary legacy that will see schoolchildren pore over my work 200 years from now, to winning awards or changing the world - no, I just want to entertain people. I like to think I'm more Guillermo del Toro than Michael Bay, but the intention is much the same.

Of course, that's not the ONLY reason I write. At the moment, I'm working on a Western novella, tentatively titled Guns of Retribution, about a bounty hunter named Gray O'Donnell. I've written the first draft, and I'm now polishing the rough edges before I send it to my completely awesome beta readers. I'm a natural pedant so if a plot point sticks out like a sore thumb to me, I assume it'll be a red flag to others, so I won't put anything out in front of people until all the narrative logic has been resolved. Now, for one reason and another, I've had to take a couple of breaks from redrafting, and I finally got back into it on Monday night. Re-reading the opening scene, I almost cried - it was like being back among old friends again. Sure, they're imaginary friends, but they're friends all the same.

Writing is an inherently solitary path, but in a perverse kind of way, we're never really alone. We're constantly living out adventures in our heads, chatting to people we've invented, and endlessly creating new places and things. Of course, if most people say they hear voices, they're considered insane, but writers are exempt from this particular social convention.

Good thing, too. I wouldn't dare tell Liss Hunt to shut up.


Carrie Clevenger said...

I know that feeling, to step either into another author's book or my own and be comfortable. Good post here Icy.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Dipping back into a good book is like slipping on your favourite cosy slippers. ^_^

Anonymous said...

We write to create our own dreams.
Adam B @revhappiness

Jen said...

"Of course, if most people say they hear voices, they're considered insane, but writers are exempt from this particular social convention."

Yes, writers are generally labeled insane no matter what they produce. :)

Lovely post, Icy. I'm always gratified when someone steps up and confesses that the reasons they write are not as clear-up as all that. It often gets boiled down to pithy statements or expressions, and I don't buy it. It's much more complicated. You capture it well, here.

Tony Noland said...

Great post, Icy - thanks for sharing the inner life.

Larry Kollar said...

I write because I'm compelled to write. I get a story idea from the Great Beyond, and it's like the characters get beamed into my head along with the story, They start bouncing off the insides of my skull, and the only way to get them out is to write the story down. Once I start, they often calm down and tell me the rest of it themselves. Yeah, I'm taking dictation for the voices in my head.

If someone else enjoys the story, that's gravy. I'm just trying to keep my focus most days.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I write because if I didn't then the voices in my head would probably drive me mad. But like you, I get immense pleasure when I see that my writing did something good for someone. It is the best feeling in the world.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Adam - I'd be terrified to use my dreams in my writing. Last night I dreamed Christian Bale (complete with hobo beard) had opened a DVD shop on my road and wanted to hire me to balance the books. Madness.

Jen - Yeah, cliches often abound when a writer's motivation gets put on the table. I wanted to admit that yes, I do like that fuzzy feeling when someone enjoys what I've done. It's not selfish - I'm sharing the joy!

Tony - Figured I needed to prise myself open a crack and share a little 'me'.

FAR - Haha I know what you mean! You're not left in peace until you've written it down.

Magaly - Isn't it lovely? It's like, we get to enjoy writing, and someone else gets to enjoy the product - it's a win-win situation!

John Pender said...

Good one, Icy. Makes me think about the reasons I write and why I should continue.

dan powell said...

One of the cool things about being writers and readers is having best friends that don't really exist. Great post Icy.

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