Thursday, July 12, 2007

Why Do I Write?

Yes, I'm in a philosophical mood these days.

I've been mulling over this question of late. I've been fortunate enough to receive a bevy of emails from people who have read TDLF and with whom it resonated enough that they actually took the time to track me down online and send me a few kind words. Some of these people have been touched by cancer, others are cancer survivors themselves. And their notes mean EVERYTHING to me. I mean, seriously. Here I am, just someone who had the misfortune of losing a loved one to cancer, but not anyone who battled it herself, so for these survivors to reach out to me and say, "Hey, thank you for writing my story," or "Thank you for portraying a kick-ass woman who is strong enough to wreak fury on the disease," or "Thank you for helping me to heal when cancer took my mother," well, seriously, it's truly hard to express the emotions that these notes drum up for me.

All of which has gotten me thinking. I wrote TDLF as a way to cope with my own grief. The truth of the matter is, that I'm not sure why else I wrote it. I guess, now that it's out there in the world, part of me must have written it as a way to connect with others, to share my story and hope that it resonated with them. Is this why we write? Is this why we pick up books? I guess so.

It would be easy for me to say that I write because I'm good at it. But I'm good at a lot of things - I don't expect to be paid for them. I'm an excellent Precor-er, that doesn't mean that I think I should be a professional aerobics instructor! (I'm stretching my point, but I think you get it.) I mean, I do write partially because I'm good at it, but there has to be something more than that. I suspect that some people write because they want the world to see how brilliant they are...they should only wait until they get their first scathing review or discover that the world doesn't think they are as brilliant as they anticipated. Others write because "it's their calling." But what does that really mean? (And I'm being serious in asking this.) Is it your calling to share your stories or to entertain people or to be able to make money while working in your pajamas? Which is it?

I think that I've finally realized that for me, as I said above, it's about being able to connect with people. I don't kid myself that my work will win huge prizes or land on the top of the NY Times list...but I guess that via the emails I've gotten, I now understand that I write because my story is also someone else's, and in reading the book, it helps/entertains/amuses/soothes that other person.

But what of all those unpublished writers whose work might never see the light of day? (Though hopefully it will!) Why do they write? Or even for other published authors...why do you write? I think it's an interesting question that a lot of us don't focus on...because we're too busy writing. :)


Larramie said...

Why people write probably has to do with how they write -- i.e. where does their inspiration come from? My feeling is that those who write from their heart desire to connect, share and tell a truly genuine story. It's the type that makes both the author and reader feel good.

Trish Ryan said...

I think it has something to do with not being able NOT to write. Sure, I can procrastinate like it's an Olympic sport and the gold medal is on the line, but there's always something brewing in me that I know will eventually spill out into my laptop. I just don't always get to control when :)

Cool question.

Anonymous said...

I write because it's easier to explain that I'm a writer than it is to say I'm a daydreamer.

I write because it's fun and challenging.

I write because it's satisfying, like scratching an itch.

If a publisher accepts my work, that's the cherry on the sundae.

Jenny said...

I write because I absolutely love's in my bones.

And for lots of other reasons too.

I like your posts lately...

Unknown said...

I write because if I don't, I start to feel ill.

taryn said...

It's my own form of mental illness, a compulsion... yet it is the one thing that makes me feel most alive and connected to a greater creative force.

Love your blog, thanks!

Patti said...

i write because i must.