“Why Do You Write?”
April 3, 2012 § 13 Comments
I get this question a lot. My answer is probably too brief or too cliche to really do it justice. I’ll do my best to answer it right now.
I don’t remember the first time I blogged and I probably never will. My memory has never been very good, which is probably why I started documenting things in the first place. I need to have some sort of record, something to help me recall what happened with an explanation, otherwise I worry that I won’t be able to find it when I need it someday. I guess you could say that I’m an information hoarder.
Where it all started, I don’t know. I didn’t write a lot as a kid but you could probably say that I have always had an itch to be “creative.” Teachers in grade school would give us assignments like writing short stories or drawings (some of which I still have and will share) and I was always happy when they did. Creating stories was nothing new to me, even as a young boy.
You tend to get creative when you don’t have anyone to play with. (That sounds like I had no friends but it just means that I usually only had one best friend at a time until high school.) In my room, I would design entire new worlds in my imagination and act out fantasies of fighting and diabolical intrigue with nothing more than action figures or just finger guns. (You never get too old for finger guns. Pew Pew!)
So putting that creative energy into short stories was easy, but I never really incorporated writing into my non-school life until I was in college. That’s when I began to write blogs on sports and movies simply because I wanted to. It was how I would prefer to spend two to three hours of free time, but researching history and finding the answers to questions that other writers might not have ever asked.
It just grew from there.
1997 was the first time I saw the movie Scream and the first time that I wanted to write a screenplay. Movies like Scream from Kevin Williamson and The Usual Suspects from Chris McQuarrie were the first time I can really recall thinking how amazing it was that you could write a set of circumstances in a story that would blow the viewers mind in the end. I wanted to find out how that was possible and what I could do to become a screenwriter as well. I wanted to make just one thing that would help me leave a mark on the world so that I wouldn’t be forgotten when I died.
Maybe that sounds silly or trite, to think that a movie like Scream would have an affect like that on a person or that it would really matter, but to me Williamson has already left his mark on the world because he left his mark on me, a total stranger. That’s amazing. Not only that, but he inspired somebody else and what’s more amazing than inspiring someone that you’ve never met?
So it was a combination of my desire to be a screenwriter and my insatiable need to learn and research that led me to writing blogs. The blogs I created were non-fiction but all that mattered was that I was learning how to put words together in a way that made sense and was visibly appealing to the reader. By having a dual background in screenwriting and non-fiction reporting, it’s helped me to become a better writer that hopefully can entertain and also inform. That’s my only goal really.
When a person tells me on FieldGulls, a Seahawks blog, that they showed one of my articles to a non-sports fan and that they loved it, that is when I know that I’ve done my job. Just hearing that maybe I did something good makes me feel great already, but to know that I entertained someone that didn’t think it would be possible to give two shits about an article on the Seahawks makes it all worth it.
I have never put as much work into anything as I do into writing. I have never given much of a shit about anything as I do about writing. Which still doesn’t answer the question as to “Why writing?”
There’s the old saying that your dream job chooses you, not the other way around… or something like that. That’s a cop-out and it still doesn’t really explain why I would choose to be a writer. Especially because of this one important fact:
I am kind of sensitive and if I think I do something that sucks and then put it on the world wide web, it tears me up inside.
And yet, I write all the time. Over the last year, I’ve grown to writing on five different websites and totaling over 20 articles per week, so what am I? Some kind of sado-masochist? yes
Seriously though, by doing that it helps me overcome my fears. My fear of failure, my fear of rejection, my fear of being stupid. All of the repetition, practice, and testing what works against what doesn’t, has helped me to become a better writer and also someone that has a thicker skin towards acceptance of constructive criticism. I mean shit, I started a YouTube channel starring ME and I would never imagined that I could handle putting my face out there when it seemed hard enough to simply put words out there.
I don’t think that writing chose me, as if writing was a tangible being like a sports team that took me with the 18th pick in the Writers Draft, I just think that every little step along the way during my childhood and even up until this very moment has simply led me to that: This very moment.
The moment when I’m sitting here writing about why I am a writer on my blog where I write stuff. One can’t really explain how the steps form or why the dew drop falls to the left and not to the right, but all we know is that the steps did happen. My steps led me to here and I’m very happy about that. All I really know is that writing is what I love to do and it’s what I want to do. I hope to have a greater stage one day, and that I can inspire somebody like past writers have inspired me so that I can leave a mark on this world.
There seems to be some sort of aura around choosing a life of creativity and being great at it. Whether you’re a painter, an actor, a writer, a filmmaker, anything where you can create something simply by imagining it, it seems like people hold that as a higher esteem. But that’s not it either.
I work at a shipping company and I was recently speaking to the one of the managers. He was telling me about how he got hired and how he got to his position as manager. He told me that he never dreamed as a kid that he would one day be a manager at a shipping company (as obviously no kids dream of one day being a manager at a shipping company) but certain steps in his life, ones that he could have never predicted, led him to his current position.
When he was a kid he wanted to be a football player. Wanted to play in the NFL and live a dream out of being on his favorite team. That’s obviously a low percentage dream. It doesn’t happen for many people, even ones that play at the highest level of college. Millions of kids play football and only a few new ones are accepted into the professional ranks each year. It’s a dream that’s mostly just a dream. Most of us will go on to be professionals at “regular jobs” so does that mean it’s less important that being a football player or a writer or the President of the United States?
Well, yeah, it’s less important that being the POTUS, but it doesn’t mean it’s not important.
The manager I spoke with told me that over time, being the manager at a shipping company became his passion. He’s been here for 15 years and he’ll probably be here for another 20 or so until he retires. It doesn’t really matter what you do but life will be a lot more fulfilling if you’re doing what you love to do. It also doesn’t mean that you can’t leave this world without having inspired people along the way.
Writers inspire people. Doctors inspire people. Managers at shipping companies inspire people. Mothers inspire people. We all have the ability to do so, but it’s only those that pursue with everything that they have that will ultimately be successful.
So why do I write?
I write because every little moment in my life led me to this moment. I write because I want to leave my mark on the world and if writing is the only thing that I love to do, if it’s the only thing that makes me excited for tomorrow, then writing will be the avenue that gives me the greatest chance to inspire somebody else to do the same.
I guess you could say that’s why I write. Also, because it gave me a chance to tell the world how stupid the song Billionaire is.
Thanks so much for reading!