One of my favorite columns in Poets & Writers magazine is “Why We Write.” The magazine solicits short essays, asking writers why they do what they do, and these heartfelt answers are published for readers.
It’s always nice to get a glimpse into the mind of a fellow author—or a favorite author, for that matter. It is often inspirational and helps keep me motivated. I’ve noticed, however, that my reasons never seem to align with those listed in this column.
Many times, the writers of these essays took up writing as a way to deal with a tragedy, or rediscovered it when they went soul-searching. Writing became a form of therapy, or a moral soapbox, or something equally noble. Of course, they all admit that writing makes them happy, but it’s not usually the primary reason they took up the craft.
This makes me feel a little shallow.
My doves, this is my confession: I write because I like it. It makes me stupidly, consistently happy.
I have not suffered a tragedy. I have not overcome a series of truly unfortunate events. My life is decidedly blessed. As an “arteest” I’m a fraud. A phony. I’m not starving; I have no hidden moral or political agenda, no cause that I am trying to further. I am, artistically speaking, a selfish bitch.
In the fourth grade, my teacher and my librarian told me I was good at writing. I already liked to do that because I enjoyed telling stories (the result of an over-active imagination), and suddenly, I had people praising me for it. I won a first place prize for poetry, when I had never won a competition in my life. I felt validated. I was good at doing what made me happy.
So, I kept doing it.
I like to tell stories. I like to have other people listen to my stories, and tell me they like them, too. I like to write these stories out because the people and places I create are sometimes more interesting than real life. I like to explore the darker corners of my mind while writing villains, and the nobler bits of my soul while writing heroes.
Every once in a while, what I write gains some sort of purpose. It expresses a personal philosophy, or touches on societal commentary, or has some sort of moral lesson. I assure you, this is purely accidental. I am utterly surprised when it happens, infrequently as it does.
I like to write because it is an outlet for my weirdness. I am myself when I write, in a way I cannot be with anyone else, anywhere on the planet.
I write, sometimes, just to write. To flex my imagination. I really wish that was an exercise or something, because I’d be RIPPED if it were. Dude. My imagination has guns.
Imagine, if you will, that I am a five-year-old and writing is a fabulous toy. Pretend the toy is a shiny Princess Leia action figure and that I am obsessed with Star Wars. (Ahem. This isn’t a stretch, my lovelies, because I am. O-b-s-e-s-s-e-d.)
It makes me blissfully happy and if you take it away I will howl like a banshee.
That is why I write.