You are here

Writing - It's a disease

Yes. I know. I said I'd post weekly. And here I am again, and the week isn't up yet. But a friend of mine asked this same question recently, so I figured I'd try and answer it, for me at least.

Why do I write?

Sure, there's an easy answer to this. 'So you, my readers, can read me.' And that's fine. I love you reading me. But while it's a perfectly good answer, I have to admit it's not all the answer.

Let me put it this way. I drive my mother mad.

Yes, I know that's not exactly unusual. But every time I finish a book, and every time she reads it, she asks The Question.

'So are you going to try to sell this one?'

I'm not talking about whether it's good or bad. I'm not talking about whether she's prejudiced because she's my mother. I'm talking about the answer I give her and how it drives her mad :-P. Because I tell her, sure I’d like to be published. But I tell her (heresy alert) I don’t write to be published. I tell her I write because I have to write. I tell her when I don't write, the words start dancing in my head and my fingers, and it feels like indigestion.

I hate indigestion.

There are some lines in a song ( there always are, I suppose) by Anna Nalick:

2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to

That's me. And yes, I wish I’d written it :-).

There's a set of books by Barry B Longyear about a space-faring carnival. When the carnival thing starts to die on Earth, one of the companies sets itself up on a space ship and takes to the stars to find new audiences. But that's not the point here. The point is that the carnies are often asked why they carry on with a life that, to the one asking, is no life at all. Always wandering, never accepted, the scapegoat for every bad or illegal thing that happens wherever they land. The carnie being asked, whichever carnie is asked, looks at the asker and takes a breath to answer. Then they realise that if the question has to be asked, the answer will never be understood and give the only answer they can. 'It's a disease.'

OK. Writers don’t get quite the bad press carnies do. We tend to get blamed more for missing apostrophes than missing clothes-lines, washing (I think I'm showing my age) or whatever people (possibly wrongly) blame carnies for. Writers? You might even let your daughter marry one. Heck, your daughter might even be one without you disowning her. But I think, for some people, writing is like that.

If you're a published author, you may write to make money. Or to publish more. But if we aren't making money, if we aren't published (yet),if we’re still un-Agented (so far), if we're spending three times as long over a Query as the damn book took, and five times as long over the Synopsis - why do we do it? Why do we write?

It's a disease :-).


Lady_Mary's picture

You answered this much more eloquently than I did. As with you, I write because there is a story, or more importantly characters who drive me to write about them. Even if I never see my creation for sale, I would still write, or at the very least tell myself the stories in my mind. For me, it's all about the characters and their tale.

Graeme's picture

... but it was the best I could come up with to explain why I drive my mother crazy. She thinks the past mumblty-mumble years might be a better explanation, but I deny it all! :-P.

Raising Marshmallows's picture

Well put. Writing is almost therapeutic.

Raising Marshmallows

Graeme's picture

... the disease as therapy. We cast ourselves into its grasp to escape or cure our lives of other ills we regard as more fearsome.

I like it! Mind - if it comes with the evils of the Query and the Synopsis, they'd better be mighty fearsome things from which we seek surcease... :-P.

Add new comment

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer