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.

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3 thoughts on “Writing? Why?

  1. suzy wong March 30, 2012 / 8:42 am

    Hear hear! Yup, the most important thing is to stay authentic, to stay true to yourself. I believe there does lie opportunity in that…

  2. davidseven May 4, 2012 / 10:10 am

    I think writing is like a lot of other professions; we get into it for one reason, and have to take on lots of other responsibilities to make it work.

    Me? I just like to write. But I also want to be published, and am preparing for what that means.

    I don’t think it is a sellout.

  3. Elmi June 20, 2012 / 12:38 am

    Everything you said resonates with me because it makes sense. Writing also helps me cope, it helps me escape, it helps me deal, it helps me express and learn and get closure. I believe that as long as you have something to say, you should say it out loud. I’ve learned over the past 6 months that although I write for myself, I also write to be heard. That’s the great thing about today’s technology, it gives writers like us a platform to speak unedited and unapologetically, to an audience that wants to listen, without the middle man filter. The term “published” has become dated. Legacy Publishing has lost the iron grip of control it used to have on writers. Even if you don’t play the game of self publishing (Twitter, blogs, self promotion etc.) there’s still a platform for real writers. The playing field has changed, and it benefits writers like us, especially if we’re not driven by sales or popularity or even accolades. Real writers need to be heard, because for everything they have to say, there’s someone who has to hear it. And for the first time it’s possible without compromising one’s integrity.

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