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Why Do You Write?

Why do you want to write?
What is it that drives you to string words together to form sentences, paragraphs and stories?

Beach in Galway Ireland
Do you dream of walking along a beach (maybe even living in a cottage by the sea) where you can write to your heart's content?

Do you see yourself as the next great novelist who sky-rockets to the top of the NY Times' list?

Do you simply enjoy stringing words together? Is it a means to heal or to think?

Every writer has a different reason to write. They sound similar sometimes, but what drives the writer is as unique as the individual. I started writing because I couldn't find enough books to satiate my reading addiction. I continue to write for much the same reason, but along the years other elements have added to my list of what drives me to write.

"The Pen is Mightier than the Sword"

I write because I have no voice, and for others who are voiceless. I write because through written words, I am able to explore trials and troubles in new locations. In my books, good triumphs, and justice served. It might take time, and there will be downfalls, but by book's or series' end, justice prevails.

My mind is constantly on - I am often accused of thinking too much. Because learning is as important to me as breathing or writing, I gather information to myself, storing it up in time of need. I learn a great deal about the world, and because I do have a strong sense of justice, elements such as modern-slavery, abuse, and gender equality are important to me. I write to teach others through words, because for so many years, I have been limited in how and when I can teach.

Argument is a valid means of discussion. Not shouting, but debating: the ability to clearly lay down and express thoughts for the express purpose of persuasion or enlightenment. Not all debates must end in persuading one side to the other; many debates can end with sides agreeing to disagree. For me, writing is the means I most readily use to take different sides in a debate. Through story, I can explore one side's arguments then another side's and another's until all sides are argued.

Truth be told, winning isn't high on my priorities in a debate; acknowledgement is. What I desire the most is for my opponent to acknowledge the validity of my points, and to take those points into consideration. I don't know if this is a difference between men and women, but when I talk with women, we come either to an agreement or agree to disagree, but we see the two sides. When I debate with men, it is usually all or nothing, and the debate ends in a stalemate, not because I have lost, but often because I see the futility in continuing the debate: my opponent will never acknowledge that my opinion is valid, and therefore, since I cannot agree with his side, I close down the arguments.

In my world, where women are inferior to men in theological matters and intelligence, my withdraw is probably seen as submitting to the man's better intellect, and the man, subsequently, probably viewed as me submitting to his argument. I see it more as a strategic withdrawal from an argument where the two sides will never win. I will never achieve acknowledgement because to acknowledge my opinions, understanding and knowledge is valid, he must accept me as his equal in knowledge, intelligence and global understanding.

In my world, it cannot happen. Intelligent women who can argue, defend and ultimately win their arguments are at best arrogant, and at worst sinning when they exercise authority over a man. Thank God for my parents and family who realize that my intelligence and personality were elements to support not destroy.

"There were once three brothers ..."

"I don't read fiction because it's ... well, fiction. It isn't real. It's a lie, and why would I want to read a bunch of lies?"

I have heard this statement many times over my life, in various and sundry forms. Slight shifts in the statement are adjusted for individuals: some exclude fantasy on the grounds of magic; others exclude mysteries because of the death and destruction, but fiction can take a beating, especially in some Christian communities.

When I watch people pass around books at my former church, they fell into one of three categories:
  1. Fiction so over-the-top as to be ridiculous. Often these include many romances where the female character either succeeds to win the man she loves to Christ whether through her good behavior or near death experience.
  2. Fiction so preachy that the only reason people read it is because they must - it's kind of like eating your vegetables or reading Moby Dick. It's something good we should do.
  3. Non-fiction in all its many guises: biographies of missionaries and other heroes of the faith, self-help (sometimes styled as devotionals), historical time periods where God did great things, or modern diatribes on the horrors of the modern world.
The first two, I have problems with, but the last group is one of my favorites. I think nothing of sitting down to read a five hundred plus page tome on the history of Christianity or about the border wars in the War of 1812. Once again, I love learning, and reading non-fiction is the best way to learn about times and places.

There are times, however, when a fictional work is better than non-fiction. History is replete with the daring-do of good men and women who faced adversity and won. History is also replete with the stories of men and women who stood back and allowed evil to triumph. For every story of good triumphing over evil, I can probably raise five in which the opposite was true and evil triumphed over evil. Cold cases are just some of the examples.

I write fiction because in the story, good can triumph more often than evil. I lean towards fantasy, science fiction and mysteries for this very reason: good triumphs over evil. It is in the make-up of the genre.

Our heroes can be people we know, or characters we love, but that knowledge scares people in my world. When I was younger, if I had told someone that Lucy Pevensie was one of my heroes, I would have been almost immediately asked, "Yes, but what about someone real? Someone like King David or Saint Paul?"

The problem wasn't that Lucy Pevensie was somehow a bad hero, it was simply she wasn't a real hero. Reality was more important that imagination in the long run. Imagination was good for children, but it wasn't something for adults to exercise. Adults needed to be grounded, and having heroes who were fictional was not good. Honestly, Lucy Pevensie is still one of my favorite characters, and one I wish I could be like should I ever find a wardrobe to wander through.

For some, fiction is a means to an end (see the second type of books handed around). Fiction is only as good as the message it sends. I write because the story itself is what I love. Story is the means through which I explore the world. In fiction, the brothel owner is caught and prosecuted; his victims are set free. In real life, this rarely is the case.

The best stories are those that remain with you, making you ponder them anew.

"To be or not to be ..."

My heart beats in steady rhythm; my lungs inhale the oxygen and exhale the carbon dioxide. I do not have to think of these actions because they happen as naturally as ... well, breathing.

Writing is the same way, because I think in story form. History makes more sense to me when I understand the whys instead of the lists of who, what and when. Actually, historical fiction is brilliant for this very cause - I can learn about history through story. Oddly enough, I can list off more kings and queens of England than I can US Presidents (I'm an American, by the way). The reason is simple: I remember the stories connected to the kings and queens, but not the presidents.

I write because to not write is out of the question. To not create stories is to sentence me to a life of boredom. Without the ability to write, to dream, to create, I suffocate. One of my characters is sentenced to such a life, and it nearly drives her mad.

I write because it keeps me grounded. In a world filled with turmoil, the bright spots need to be written. The triumphs in the midst of darkness need to be recorded. When it seems that nothing good can happen, I write to find goodness.

I write because it is who I am. With the knowledge I retain, I know that men, women and children are sold for sex; I know others are stuck in abusive relationships; I know someone is on the brink of losing hope. I write because I cannot help them physically; I cannot walk the road beside them, but I can write to teach someone else about them.

In the real world, crap happens. Through words, that crap can be turned over to become something profitable, something that nurtures. Through words, we can learn where not to walk, and to help others around the mess.

Words are magical - they can heal, and they can hurt; they can inspire, and they can destroy. They harness the good to dispel the evil. I write because it's the only magic I have.

Comments

  1. “I write because it's the only magic I have.” As great an explanation of why writers write as I have seen anywhere.

    ReplyDelete

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