Every writer likes to have a go at answering this (often personal) question at some point in their blogging career, and I suppose I’m no different. What brewing concoction of feelings and emotions do you experience when you put that marvellous brain to paper? And why on Earth do you keep writing, day after day, with no end in sight?
I was recently catching up on Louise Allan’s Writers in the attic series, which if you haven’t come across yet please do head over there ASAP, when I came upon the second story in the series and was hushed into stillness. Michelle Johnston, who was writing on Being a Writer and a Physician, had described, with lyrical dreaminess, what I believe writing would truly look like if it could ever be described:
It is, instead, a world of dazzling stars, of piranhas and bank heists, and dirigibles and zeppelins, and broiling oceans, and vast, dusty Mongolian steppes, and tents gently flapping in the golden evening breeze of the desert, and slow illicit kisses steeped in warm, doomed breath. It is escape and travel. It is wonder and magic.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to come up with something so beautifully demonstrative, filled with glorious imagery and fated whispers of stories yet to be told. Her analogy instantly drove me back to my own imagination, to the years I’ve spent dwelling in my own dreams, my heart aching with longing. I began to wonder, what does writing really mean to me? Why do I write?
For some, it might be because they want to send their stories out into the world like a message in a bottle, floating across the ocean to an unknown destination to hopefully be read and enjoyed by others. And then there are the enigmatic poets, who simply love the complexity and beauty of language and are proficiently adept at playing around with words (and if that’s you, can you please tell me how??)
For me, I always thought that it was the dream of new worlds that I was drawn to – that thrill of creating a new character, the feverish urgency that grips you and refuses to let go, turning you into a hermit for days on end, sunlight and fresh air a distant memory until you get that story down. And while this does play a big part, there is also something else that makes me write… as Johnston mentioned, writing is ‘escape and travel. It is wonder and magic’.
When I was younger, writing was my dearest of friends, keeping me steady and sane during my angsty teenage years. It became a therapeutic counsellor that slowly and surely helped me piece together my self-worth and joie de vivre. I really don’t know how I would have coped otherwise.
By the time I was 19 I had my first novel sitting in my bottom draw. It didn’t matter that it was terrible and would never see the light of day, all that mattered was that I’d conquered my own personal Mount Everest, the top of which made me realise I could achieve anything if only I set my mind to it.
So why do I write?
For the exhilarating excitement, for the hope and the despair, for the healing and the laughter, and for the strength it has ingrained upon my heart.
Oh… and I also want to be a NYT best-selling author… but I didn’t want to admit that #NothingButTheTruth