Writing? Why?

I think I’ve discussed this topic on the blog before somewhere, but I know it’s been a quiet year (so chances are you’ll read it for the first time) and it’s been weighing on my mind a lot these days. Since November when I participated in NaNoWriMo, I’ve once again become more in touch with other aspiring writers (and remained in touch with them which is a first for me). It’s been an education, to see people’s passions, to see their drives and hear about their plans for the future. I’ve heard all the theories behind publishing; I’ve learned how difficult it has become and how important the words ‘popular genre’ has become. Publishing is about money, about finding a means to do what you love and making a living out of it.

And, there’s nothing wrong with that but… I’ve realized that in a way, it’s wrong for me.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that earning a living as a writer is a bad thing, but I think that the world today has forced a lot of writers to give up their integrity, to write for the general audience and focus on what’s more popular rather than what’s right. I’ve been told countless times how important it is to be on ‘Twitter’ before you publish, to have a popular blog and interact with fans on Facebook. The task of advertising your book doesn’t fall to the publisher anymore but rather to the author themselves. They have to discuss their pages, make fan notes, have interviews and declare whether their books are suited for ‘Young Adults’. I look at all of it and I’ve come to realize that in a way, I don’t want to become a part of it. I don’t want to live my life in such a way that forces me to justify my work and to sell what I want for money.

The thing is that, I don’t write because I want to, I don’t write because I like it. I write because I have to, because it is the only way that I can allow my thoughts to control me without destroying me, the only way to move forward in a life that I’m becoming more and more cynical about. You see, I’ve never written for anybody. I started writing stories when I was eleven, when the dreams that I had in my mind become so much too bare that I had to let them out on paper. I’d would spend days hauled up in my room, scribbling near intelligible words down on paper purely because I needed them to come out. Even now, when I don’t write, my mind becomes cluttered, filled with nonsense and emotions of characters that have no call to be in my head. I have never written to please people, I have been writing to survive and the only time I ever struggled to do so was when I decided to humour other people’s idea of a story.

I’ve begun to feel like a fraud, like an alien claiming the title of writer because I wasn’t like the others, that nobody seemed to have the desperation that I had within me to make my words known. Yet, today – I spoke to an author, a published author, who had not given in to popular genres, who had not given in to other people’s wishes, who had gone and written a book, not because he wanted to publish it, but because it had to be written. And, he made it.

I think it’s why I find myself feeling the way that I do today, that I’m strangely at peace and excited because I had been given hope again. Or rather, justification to be the way that I am. That, just because I refuse to please people’s idea of fiction, I’m not committing myself to a life of senseless mumblings.

You see, writing is a way of life. It’s my way of life. I use my characters and plots to deal with issues within my own mind. I have used writing to get over the death of a close friend, I used it to get over the loss of my first horse. I’ve used it to help me through the solitary months I spend abroad and I used it to express joy and humour that I can’t always use in real life, or the true feelings that I have become so used to hiding. I use it to escape, to have control and to learn what it is to see a world from multiple perspectives. I’ve pulled that into my own life and have learned to see people as characters in a story they have no control over. Writing has taught me to live, allowed me to live.

And, that’s why I believe I’ll never get published, because I’ll never sell that idea, or change that story, or accept that direction that other people want. I don’t need it, I don’t need approval. I need to stay true to who I am, to write because it’s a part of me rather than something I want to make a part of everything else. It doesn’t make what I do futile…

It makes it mine.

Catch me if you can…

I’ll confess, I’ve been busy – which is the reason this blog has been standing quite stagnant for a while now. Work has been… Work. I try not to get too philosophical about it because then I’d just get depressed and do something drastic like become a Desperate Housewives fan or something. I’ve also played Mass Effect 3 – the game that dominated most of my post for the past couple of months. Whereas the major bulk of the game was everything I anticipated and more, the end of it left a bitter, bitter taste in my mouth. (In a lot of people’s mouths actually – it’s been one of the most heated debated topics in the gaming community for the past month). When I have worked things out in my mind, I’ll post about it but for now, that topic’s sitting on the back burner.

I have been quite prolific with writing I have to say, though a lot of it is internet articles. Here’s a list of what I’ve been up to:

For the web magazine Contains Moderate Peril I’ve been doing a series of posts about my experiences as I played Mass Effect 3. You can see all the articles here.

The most exciting thing that I’ve done is that I’ve managed to get my hands on an ARC of a book that was to be published in the UK on the 13th of March (or 16th? Heck – this is my blog, I don’t have to be accurate, haha). The website I’m actively posting for (Nerd Trek – I post there at least once a week) asked me to read it and review it. The publishers send the book to me and with my luck, it arrived a day before Mass Effect 3. Needless to say, I hardly slept the past month, jumping between saving the galaxy from the reapers and saving the Titanic from its fate. The book’s name is The Company of the Dead by debut author David Kowalski and I have to say, I enjoyed it. It’s a thick bugger, clocking in at 730 pages in a REALLY tiny script (I need new reading glasses…), but it was well worth the read. You can check out my review here and the author’s webpage here.

Other than that, there’s very little for me to add. I think I’m going to give gaming a break for a bit and jump back into things I actually have a hand in (and can control the fate of my characters without leaving them with major plot holes thank you very much Bioware). I’ve started a writer’s group (or really, the group started it, I’m just sort of keeping the strings together) in my home town which is also interesting. And, before I forget – Script Frenzy is around the corner! For those of you who don’t know about it, go check out their website here. It’s a fun, less difficult that NaNoWriMo challenge for April. I’m not sure how much I’ll be participating but I’m definitively coordinating events in South Africa.

If you want to see what I’m up to on a day to day basis, it’s easier finding me on twitter these days. (But then again, most people coming to this blog comes in from twitter, haha.) I know right? It’s hard imagining that I was so against the notion. I think in a way I still am in a way, but I don’t want to dwell on it. Besides, it’s great being funny (or trying to be anyway *whistles*) in 140 letters.

Live long and prosper bunnies. This is not the last you’ll hear from me.