Writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon one can neither resist nor understand.
That pretty well sums it up nicely. I mean, why do you write in the first place? In an age where everything is about speed, why slow down to read. Print is dead, or so the papers would claim if most of them hadn’t gone under a decade ago. So why, when so few people want to read anything would anyone want to write? For some, it is pure vanity, a narcissistic impression that the world not only wants to but needs to know every single thought they have no matter how unoriginal, misinformed or simply idiotic that those thoughts night be. Some would even argue that this blog and anything on it that isn’t an actual work of fiction is in that same self obsessed vein and they might be right. Other’s have visions of dollar signs and film adaptations dancing through their heads as they pen the same schlock that’s been seen time and time again to be regurgitated and repackaged to an audience that long ago gave up hope of ever seeing anything original or thought provoking ever again.
And let’s be fair, fortune, fame and becoming a part of the cultural zeitgeist are all at work in a writer’s mind at some point. You want people to see your work, to be changed by it and to remember it forever. It’s a chance, a fleeting, tiny hope of being immortalized for ages to come and at the core of the human experience is the want, the need to live beyond yourself. It’s why we have children, start families and work in careers. At the most basic level a person isn’t afraid of dying, they’re afraid of being forgotten. For a fringe megalomaniac like myself there is also an element of godhood in the written word.
What else can you do, what other skill can you hone that allows you to not only create an infinite number of worlds and people but to take a person and transport them instantly into that world where they actively participate, become a part of something you’ve created? A good story makes you feel as if you’re living the moment with the character, gives you insight and feeling into another life without ever taking you from your seat. In an afternoon you can live a million years, share an infinite number of loves and adventures and then, when that last page is turned, get up and resume your life as best you can after being so profoundly changed.
As a man I am an agnostic and, as an agnostic, I have trouble understanding and accepting the concept of a creator god, of a being that just willed my universe into existence. As a writer, I not only can accept this god but can feel a closeness, a sense of understanding and purpose. In my pen and pad I know more of that divine love than I ever could have hoped to learn in a pew. The characters, the worlds, they come from the imagination and they grip the soul. Yes, you created them, but they take on lives of your own and while you can always meddle, always tweak and change and direct towards a certain end, you can never hope to force them or make them do anything other than what they want. You breathe life into lifelessness and create something marvelous.
Writers are capricious things and they have a sense of smugness and arrogance that masks the true insecurities inside them. To be a writer means you see the world in a way that others won’t, can’t, and to struggle your whole life to share with them a bit of the beauty and wonder in the human condition through a few simple words scribbled on paper. A million lives, the infinite cosmos exists in the heart of every man and woman who ever picked up a pen and wrote a story. This is what drives them, that maddening chorus of constant voices crying out for their chance to live through their creator.
Okay, enough of that nonsense. I’m off to indulge in my delusions of grandeur again.