Saturday, 26 January 2013
Reasons Why We Write – Part 2
We continue our look at the reasons why we write and the characteristics that make us so distinct.
We all have specific reasons why we write, and not everyone does it for egotistical or monetary reasons, or the need to be the centre of attention.
Some people write for the simple enjoyment of telling stories.
I write because I just want to entertain
Who doesn’t? Money or fame isn’t so important to this type, just so long as someone, somewhere, reads what they have written and enjoys it. These writers like to know that what they’ve written interests the reader, that it makes an impact somehow. Their satisfaction comes from this knowledge.
These types may not be as serious as the ones who are driven by the raw love of writing, but they enjoy the process nonetheless. These types are usually great short story writers; they instinctively know what their readers want, they seem to tune into it. The result is an entertaining good read.
I write because I’m brilliant at it
One thing is certain in life – people who shout loudest about how good they are at something are the worst failures at it.
Ergo, writers who blow their own trumpet too often are usually not as brilliant as they make out. It’s a psychological prop – if we brag and boast about our talent often enough, we start to believe it, and once that happens it must mean it’s true. That may be so in your front room and in your mind, but the reality of the publishing world is quite different.
If you shout too often and too loud about your fantastic writing talent, then it’s very likely the people you want to impress the most – publishers and editors – will balk at such blasé behaviour. Arrogance – especially the authorial kind – will do you no favours.
There are plenty of writers who assume their work is worthy of winning every competition they enter, or they react with complete shock if their MSS is rejected by an agent or publisher; having been so convinced their fantastic work would be snapped up immediately and turned into a bestseller, not once considering that the work might be substandard.
There are writers who quickly become wrapped up with their own smugness, because Auntie Gertrude said how wonderful they are, and friends and family gush over their stories, if only to make them feel better.
Our loved ones never really tell it like it is. They won’t tell you that your work is utter rubbish. They will tell you what you want to hear, thus perpetuating a myth.
The best people to assess your writing are the editors, agents and publishers.
There is nothing wrong with a little subtle, self-congratulatory back-slapping every now and then, when it’s truly deserved, but writers should never let arrogance become bigger than they are. It’s very unbecoming.
We all start at the bottom and rise with experience. How we behave on the way up will be a measure of the person who makes it to the top.
If you are a talented writer then let your writing do the talking for you.
I write to make sense of the world
Many of us fall into this category. The insatiable need to find out why we do the things we do, the kind of things that make humans tick, fascinates us. Writing entails the need to explain the human condition, to try to make sense of the world around us.
That, essentially, is what writing is all about.
And this need to make sense of the world forms the backbone of the narrative – the very reason for themes and plots, good and evil characters, and of course, motivation.
I do lend a lot from this particular category for my own writing. The relationship between humans, the relationship between nature and Gods and monsters; they all fascinate and they all require exploration.
We all do things that sometimes are out of character, or irrational, or we may be forced to make decisions that could have far reaching consequences. We are always faced with questions about life, but rarely take the time to sit down and answer them. We do the things we do for a reason.
And that’s where writing finds its strength.
Lastly, the one category that all writers belong to…
I write because I can
Perhaps the very reason we write is because we can. And we do.
Right from the very moment our ancestors started telling stories, to the moment they started to write them down, it was because they could. It was an important part of how they could explain things, to make sense of their world. For that very reason, the art of storytelling will never change.
There are probably numerous other reasons why we write, but certainly some of these are the main ones that most of us tend to fall into.
So, what about you? Why do you write?
Next week: Dealing with rejection.