Tuesday, February 10, 2015

"Yeah, But... Why Do You Write?"

Why do I write?

The question was the final line of an email exchange between myself and a ten-year-old. The plainness of it really struck me and I debated what sort of answer I should give - how much honesty was really called for...

Why do I write?

Is it for sales? Maybe for attention, reviews, or accolades? Respect of my peers or the reading public at large? Is it because I want to be on bookshelves all over the world and feel that I have, in some small way, contributed to the social whole?

I’ll have to be honest and admit that some of those actually sound kind of nice. Being able to support my family with my writing, making an impact on the world I live in, and having others take note of or enjoy my work would all be really fulfilling to me as a person. These are facts.

However, none of those are the reasons why I write. None of those are the core impetus that drives me to put words together, tell stories, or share my words and worlds with other people.

I have a problem. I have a difficulty connecting with people. I love communicating, and I often attempt a lot of it through social media, email, the phone, and – from time to time – I even do it in person. I also often feel as though I have failed miserably at it. I have an odd social anxiety. I panic inside. I get the sweaty palms and the nervous laughs that make any confidence I truly have seem to vanish to the perceptions of those I want to communicate with.

The only thing I've found that alleviates all those negatives is passion. If I feel passionately about something, I can really talk. I can be articulate and I can connect. I am greater in that than the actuality of who I am. That connection can be made with the things that I write. But, guess what? I fooled you again. While this is important, it’s not why I write.  It’s just the main reward that I appreciate and enjoy because of my writing.

Why, you may ask now, are you telling me all this? Why do I even care now, why you write, or why it matters to you that you do?

Fair questions. I’ll get to the point for you.

I am not a writer because I write. No. I write because I am a writer.

At the core of who I am there are emotions and thoughts. Those fill my brain with words. Sometimes those words are in my own voice; sometimes they come with other voices. I have to get them out of me. I have to write them down. It’s an imperative. I write because to not do so is to let my mind fill with words and voices and stories that garble and babble and scream. I write because it is how I stave off the madness of my own mind and its relentless attacks on itself.

I write. I share those words and voices and stories with other people out of a sincere desire to connect, and I’d like to be able to support my family with the earnings. I love reading reviews that tell me I've connected with a reader, and moreover I adore talking to people who have read something I've written and feel passionately about it; for good or bad. All of these are things that matter to me, and I do care about them… but why do I write? I write because I am a writer.

I am a writer… because of that, I write.

- Dennis Sharpe

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