I have been struggling lately, and have struggled before, with why I write. Who wants to read it? Why does what I have to say matter? This is probably why the majority of what I have written has never been read, and I’m not fishing for compliments or validation here. Anybody that has “gone fishing” before knows that all of the praise in the world doesn’t make a bit of difference if you don’t already believe what they’re saying yourself. That’s the funny thing about praise. Those who need it can’t hear it, and those who don’t need it, can. I’ve always pondered this but never shared the question with others, until today. Today I posited this question to my friend Stacey, who hands down has read more of my writing than any other person. She’s my sounding board for my novel, she’s my confidant, she is brilliant and beautiful and talented and one of my best friends. Her response to me, was to share an epiphany that she had recently had herself – maybe you can’t find the answer, because you’re asking the wrong question. What does your writing mean to you? How does writing make you feel? When all is said and done, isn’t that what really matters?
Cue my brain exploding.
But in a good way. What does writing mean to me? I write because I always have, it’s always been the best way to express myself. I write because it is a part of me, the best part of me. I write because if I didn’t the thoughts and stories and imagery would get so backed up and piled up in my head that I wouldn’t be able to see straight for the commotion. I write because sitting in a dimly lit corner with a notebook and pen, or a blinking cursor, makes me happier and gives me more fulfillment than anything else. Yes, a blank page terrifies me, but it is also my best friend because there is always more blankness to be filled. There is always more room for another story, another character, another thought. There is no feeling in the world like putting pen to paper and letting a world unfold before you. Like letting a character loose in that world to live their life. I don’t care how much thinking I do before hand, how much outlining I do, I never know where a character is going to go or what they’re going to say until the pen hits the page. Sometimes they’re predictable, but sometimes they surprise me. Captain Henry breaks my heart. I want to like him, I want him to be a good man so badly it hurts, but he does bad, bad things. And every time he does my heart breaks all over again. He does good things too, but the lady of justice stands sentinel in my heart weighing his deeds, and I have no idea which way the scales will tip when the story is finished. I hope they tip to the good, but I don’t know. I don’t know that he does either, we’ll have to wait and see. Maybe I just have to like him despite the bad things that he does, accept him with all of his faults. I talk about Henry like he’s a real person, because to me he is real.
This is why I write. Good, bad or indifferent, I write because it makes me happy. Writing completes me. That’s the answer.