Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why Write?

This morning Jackie Barbosa posed a very interesting question: Why do we do it? Over the years I've asked and answered this question too many times to count. For the first time, this morning reading and replying to Jackie's post, I didn't have a clear answer.

When I was new at this, the answer leapt to my mouth, anxious to get out. Why do I write? Because I have to write or I'll die. At the time, I'm sure it felt true. Overly dramatic perhaps, but ultimately true. It felt that crucial. Writing for me then was like breathing - a statement to which another writer once took exception to with me, but that's another story. The stories in my head had to come out. I had to write them.

Now? Not so much.

The drama is gone. (Thank god.) I won't die if I don't write, and yet... I have to write. I can take long breaks away from it, but sooner or later, I have to sit here and type. I have to build worlds and populate them with my own creations. And I have to throw those creations into difficult situations in order to get them out again. It's not the compulsion it used to be, though.

Thinking about it this morning, I wondered where all that compulsion went to and whether not having it was a bad thing. In the end, I've come to the conclusion that the infatuation has worn off, but the love is still there. It's not a bad thing. It's just a different thing.

Now when I sit down to write, even though I'm tired or my hands hurt or there's something interesting on TV, it's because I want to write - not because I have to write. The need is gone, but the want has gotten stronger.

It's like my marriage. We're going on five years now, and while the spark is still burning hot, I don't get all heart-racing, palms-sweating when I know I'm going to see him. I don't need to be with him in order to breath any more, but I want to be with him because being in his company is so damn... Well, let's just say it just feels right in a 'I have my hubby and all's right with the world' kind of way.

Writing feels the same way. When I'm writing, everything just feels like it fits. And when I'm not writing, it all feels off in some way.

The love affair isn't over, it's just grown and matured. Not that being infatuated isn't great, too. In a small way, I miss the compulsion and the rush, but for where I'm at in my life and my career right now, this is a better way for me to look at my work.

How's your love affair? Are you still infatuated with your work, or have you settled into a comfortable place? Or do me a favor and answer the age-old question amongst us writers: Why do you write?


  1. I fluctuated between infatuation and comfort. With occasional bouts of ick.

    I write because I do, on some level, enjoy it. But I also write because I want a career of it. I want to tell stories that people "get". I want people to read what I've written and respond to it.

  2. Exactly.

    And I totally hear you on the occasional bouts of ick.

  3. Very insightful post! Probably moreso than the one that inspired it.

    I like the way you said things seem right with the world when you're writing and little "off" when you aren't. Even if the writing itself is painfully difficult for me, it still feels "righter" to write than not.