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Why are you a writer?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by The Dark One, Mar 27, 2020.

  1. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Why did you become a writer?

    What weird quirk of your personality...what hideous twist of fate decreed that you would spend thousands of hours in empty rooms, tapping your life away for the opportunity to be humiliated and/or ignored?

    What drives us? Like lemmings running towards the cliff surrounded by our eager fellows, we many...we sad, deluded many...hurtle towards oblivion...inured to rejection...insouciant of the odds.

    Blinded by the light that shines but for one in a million...

    I've always been a writer in some form or other and what drives me is The Urge. I can't turn it off - a well spring of story that just keeps running and running. I still leap out of bed at three in the morning when I have an idea that just has to be written down.

    When I first decided to get serious about writing - ie make a career of it - I was compelled to be a success. I was obsessed with it. But as I get older, and as my storytelling craft improves, I find that I am now a writer for other reasons.

    I love the art of storytelling for its own sake. I am never so happy as when I am absolutely flying with a first draft that is so strong the story tells itself.

    Having been doing this for about 27 years, I have had a teensy bit of success - several books published and I have certainly achieved an audience.

    And that's what I most love about it now. People perceive me as a writer - even if only a small w writer - and like to talk to me about my work and about literature generally. It would have seemed very small beer when I was starting out but it takes experience to perceive the value of just one person enjoying your work and grateful for the fact that you did spend so much time in the lonely room, hammering your life away.

    I have made a contribution to the archives of my epoch, and that makes me very happy.
     
  2. Ban

    Ban Sir Laserface Article Team

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    Simple. I have a mind whirling with worlds of ideas and no one else is going to bring them to life, so I better roll up my sleeves and get to it. Writing allows me more nuance than other creative forms, so it's the one I've taken to primarily.
     
  3. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Oh, one other thing.

    I write the books I've always wished someone else had written.

    That's probably a cliché...
     
  4. Hawthorn

    Hawthorn Acolyte

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    I started writing because my head is always full of stories. As a child I let other people convince me of what was appropriate to want to do with my life, and so I pushed down that part of myself (not a viable career option, apparently). But eventually I remembered who I actually was under all that, realised I'd wasted lots of time going down career paths that just don't suit me or inspire me, and so I started writing (and singing, and dancing, and all the other things that I had forgotten I loved). And I just love the feeling when the writing takes over and flows and flows, and I almost forget to eat or sleep because I just have to keep writing.
     
  5. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    I make things. I come from a family of craftsmen, builders, artists. For some thirty years, I considered myself a painter before all else though I dabbled in poetry and journalism (the latter of which made me more money than ever my art did), and played around with world-building for my own amusement. Now writing is how I make things. I build stories and poems.

    Maybe I didn't have the stories to tell before. Maybe they just weren't ready when I was younger. I very much am inclined to take Trollope's advice to write because one has a story to tell, not because one wants to tell stories. And since I have them, I tell them.
     
  6. Yora

    Yora Maester

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    I want to be creative and I am too lazy to practice drawing.

    Also, the kind of fantasy books I want to read have not been written for 40 years or so. So if I want to see any such fantasy stories, the only option is to create them.
     
  7. Halcyon Spinney

    Halcyon Spinney Acolyte

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    In the last few years I have been writing down story ideas, thoughts and anything that comes to mind really. Not being a big reader, (as I have never found anything I truly enjoyed reading) I wanted to write my own story. Over time I have created a main plot that I am very happy with, and just passing my english exam (subtle flex, with an 8+) I wanted to put the writing process into action. I'm happy to say this has also really helped me pass my exam! I want to write a book for my own enjoyment, regardless of whether it would sell.
     
  8. Hmm, I imagined this would be a simple answer. Then I started typing.

    For me, it all comes from childhood and the creativity I explored in those years.

    I had, basically, two friends from ages 9 through 15. The three of us created entire worlds out of our collection of action figures. We never thought of them as the characters they were made as/supposed to be. We had all the old Star Trek, Planet of the Apes and super hero figures. (the 7" Mego ones mostly) We got rid of their superhero outfits and gave them regular clothes (some of which we learned to make) and then renamed them all and gave them backstories and lives. We, basically, created a city/society where they lived. We also made up entire sports leagues, (using them to play versions of baseball, football and hockey but also fictional games like Rollerball) we played out military scenarios, acted out life in ancient civilizations, explored Dr Who like time travel. etc etc. We spent days at the neighborhood library doing research and reading all we could about Gods and Goddesses, names of cities, empires and civilizations, pirates etc and we made all of the props, buildings and accessories we could dream of.

    No one else in our entire school knew we did this. No other kids we knew played that way. To them it would have seemed childish or strange. So we kept to ourselves. Three musketeers — or Stooges, if you prefer.

    To this day, I find myself revisiting those times almost daily. I still keep in touch with one of those two childhood friends, the other, who was eventually diagnosed as schizophrenic, died years ago, very young. A suicide. That kid was so damned creative.

    In my life, no matter how much I wanted to forge my way forward into adulthood, I found myself drawn back to those days in quite moments. I moved away from that city and, over the next twenty years, I explored photography, digital art, board game creation, multi media performance, music/bands, illustration, painting, jewelry making, sculpture and pottery. I found satisfaction in all of them only when I got over my "adult thinking" and allowed that same nod to my childhood days to factor in to what it was that I was making.

    Through it all, I always wrote. Poetry, little odd stories, journaling and pages upon pages of what we now all call world building.

    I haven't shared much here about my current life. My wife and I make a full time living as Makers of Things (some call that being an artist, some call it craft, some call me a sculptor or a miniaturist etc) Everything I make and sell is, in some way, tied to that childhood and all the things that stirred my imagination then. To fantasy. To ancient cultures. To history. To architecture. To sci fi. To monsters. To folklore.

    Charles Bukowski once said, You have to be crazy enough to just sit down at the typer every day and type. No matter the creative medium, or anything in life I suppose, that seemed good advice. Fortunately, I've always been that sort of crazy, creatively, at the expense of most anything else, and I cannot see myself being any other way in the remaining years ahead. It's just that, of late, I've decided to pour that all into writing.

    One final thought on that childhood. It's really more of a map that I've discovered and followed. The better I came to see and know that map inside and out, to identify all the pitfalls and minefields and the intricate web of experiences that helped define it, the easier it became to navigate my way through my adult life. And the happier my life has been. That continues through writing.

    Anyway, that's why I write.
     
  9. Lynea

    Lynea Dreamer

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    Alright, I'll chime in. Though, in my eyes, writing was never a viable career path, I still dabbled in it for fun. It was just another creative outlet.

    I still can't really say why I began writing. I've been writing since a young age, even if it was just journaling. In high school, I took on article writing/reporting, which was fun but not fully satisfying. Toward the end of high school, I stumbled upon a creative writing group that met weekly. Something about creative writing just had me hooked. I felt like it was "my place." I was surprised by how comfortable and natural creative writing was for me.

    Anyway, I kept my writing to myself for a very long time. I chose to follow the path of a music educator in college. While in college, I made several friends who were all English majors. Needless to say, as writers, we all just clicked. They encouraged me to keep writing and now, here I am. I love my day job as a music teacher...yet I've taken so many big steps as a writer this past year. I've finished my first novel and have been querying for an agent. I started a blog and have been updating it regularly. I don't really recognize myself anymore, but maybe this is my true self. I don't know.
     
  10. Incanus

    Incanus Auror

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    It’s a really good question. I suspect no two answers are the same, even if they overlap.

    For me, I think it is some combination of these things, in no particular order:


    *like most, I really enjoy a good, well-told tale.

    *I love a well-turned phrase, or an evocative combination of words.

    *I am literally attracted to letters, words, and punctuation on a page. It looks nice to me. It looks inviting, engaging, and holds the promise of surprises and adventures and new concepts. Therefore, creating (or attempting to create) my own seems a natural inclination.

    *like many, I don’t see enough of the kind of storytelling/writing I most love, and want to try to increase that.

    *a belief that fantasy is the highest mode of storytelling there is, at least as far as craft is concerned. A truly great fantasy story is quite rare, but when well-done, nothing can top it. I’d like to find out if I can contribute to the genre in some way.
     
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    For a long time, I didn't know I was a writer. It wasn't until I was in my fifties that I looked back--I can remember the day quite distinctily--and realized that I had been writing my whole life. Mostly ideas, several unfinished stories, a couple finished ones, and one short story I even sent off to a magazine back in the 70s. Then a long stretch of writing history, though I continued to much about with fiction.

    On that particular day, though, I realized it wasn't a matter of wanting to be a writer or wishing I was a writer. Writing was something I'd been doing always. The pertinent question was, what did I intend to do with that? I could keep doodling about, or I could make a concerted effort to become a *published* writer.

    That was the sea change. From that day I knew all the years prior could only be made meaningful if I started writing and publishing actual, completed stories. This changed my entire approach to writing. I took Altearth, which had been just another interesting playground for me, and made it the foundation on which I would build stories. Haven't looked back since.

    So, why am I a writer? I dunno. I am a historian, but that was and continues to be a choice. I am a writer, and that appears to be a trait, like being male or being old. It's why the oft-asked question--do you want to be a writer--never resonated with me. It isn't a matter of wanting; it's a matter of leopards and spots.
     
  12. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

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    I want to focus my creativity and share the best of it with anyone interested. I've tried several avenues for this but writing is where I've made the most progress.
     
  13. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

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    Writing is the way I just tell the stories that are in my head. I'm not musical and don't like poetry so that was the art form I picked. I see something and it becomes the inspiration for a novel, others would just go. "That was interesting what's for dinner?". But we writers get a different feeling towards things normal people just move on from.
     
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  14. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Oh yeah...I remember that one.
     
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  15. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    Reflecting on this today...I guess another reason I'm a writer (and one that would never have occurred to me in the early days) is that I love the sense of improvement I've had over the years.

    These steps in the process are hard won - not least as I didn't really perceive that there was a process when I started. You have this idea of yourself as a person with a muse - a talent - a vocation - something to say - a story to tell. But it didn't occur to me until I'd finished that first (dreadful) novel that there is a science and a craft and an art to writing that can be slowly perfected.

    I can look back at all the steps I've taken and recognise them in hindsight, but I don't know where I'm going in the future and I don't want to know. The journey is what truly matters.
     
  16. oenanthe

    oenanthe Minstrel

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    Because it's fun.
    Even when it sucks, it's fun.
     
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  17. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Minstrel

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    For me, writing is the only thing I'm good at. I'm autistic and even though I'm extremely high-functioning I still have a lot of developmental delays. It feels like I'm useless trash, mooching off of my mom for eternity. I have so many ideas in my head, have since I was little, but my delays mean don't have the power to bring those ideas to the forefront. Specifically, I'm not good with my hands so drawing, painting, sculpture, and most other art forms are out of the question. Writing is really the only way I can get these ideas out and maybe feel like I'm contributing something to the world.
     
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  18. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Troubadour

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    It's a strange compulsion.
     
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  19. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I am a writer because I have stories I am really, really excited to tell, and I want to see people enjoy them.
     
  20. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    Threads like these always seem to get a lot of replies very quickly. Just an observation.

    Anyways, to answer the question: there are stories I want to read but no one has written them yet. If those stories existed, I wouldn’t write.
    I actually prefer music and painting and stuff to writing. And I would never earnestly call myself a “writer”.
     
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