To balance out the negative and worry-filled post of a the other day, I thought I would remind myself (and inform all of you) why I do this scary thing called 'writing.' After all, I don't spend huge amounts of energy pouring time and effort into a story to feel uncomfortable and worried--I do it for the thrill of creating something new.
Now, when I say new I don't mean that I'm writing stories that no one has ever thought of, or dreamed of, or written about before. But I will say that no one can tell the stories I tell in the same way. After all, I have an unreplicable net of neural connections inside my brain that I hone in my own individual way each day. Or, to put it in less needlessly confusing language--I'm a special daisy.
But you're all here for the list! That thing that has numbers! Let's get down to it--here's why I love writing:
- I Love Creating. It's just as plain as that. I love starting with a blank page and making something appear from absolute nothingness. Even if it isn't much of a something, at the end of the day I have still filled a blank page by myself. It's a strange sort of magical power that I don't experience anywhere other than creative fields. It's kind of like being in a fantasy novel myself—like I'm a super-special-awesome wizard who makes marks on white space. And then those marks turn into words, which can hold power, if they're used right. It's pretty freakin' bad ass, actually. I feel like I should put on an awesome wizarding hat to finish writing this post...
- Sometimes it's Creepy. There's nothing I love more than the moment a character surprises me. It's something I'm still new to, and one I doubt I'll ever grow tired of. I learned when I was a kid, a many children do. that one of the ways to tell when something is imaginary is that you know everything they're going to do in advance. It's only now that I'm finding out that sometimes you don't. My characters love making choices I didn't forsee for them, or finding new ways to get themselves in trouble. It's not a phenominon I find easy to explain—Yes, they're my creations, but apparently that doesn't mean I'm always in control of them. When they give me those strange, disuquieting signs of life, I always experience an unspeakable thrill. Even if they're doing something I really wish they wouldn't. (Looking at you, Erin. Stupid main characters...)
- Someday it will be Read. Seriously Some day someone will read this stuff I'm writing. I think back on all the books I've read, and how many of them changed my life in one way or another. Even if people don't like my work, I can live with that. Being disliked is another form of being recognized, and I'm something of an attention lover. My fondest daydream, and the one I revisit the most often, is walking down the street and hearing someone I pass say "Did you read the new L.K. Ralston book?"
- Wish Fulfillment. I know, I know, authors are supposed to write what they know—Wish fulfillment is for people who write Mary Sue characters (If you don't know what that is, please refer to this Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue) And yet, I think a lot of novels involve a certain amount of wish fulfillment. Mine certainly do! Mind you, I don't think too many other people's fondest wishes involve getting to go see the crumbling city of Prypiat in the radioactive wasteland around Chernobyl...
- Validation. I don't make a big secret out of the fact that validation is very important to me. I like feeling worthwhile, and I like having concrete examples of why I'm worthwhile. It's part of why I donate blood, and give money to charities. It's even part of why I go out of my way to be nice to people I meet, and try to make their days happier! Little acts like that make me feel like I'm changing the things around me for the better. Writing a novel, even without having published it or edited it, makes me feel valid. Particularly, it gives me a feeling of being intellectually worthwhile—something my day to day life has been somewhat lacking in ever since I left college. It's much nicer to tell people in conversation that I've written a novel than to tell them I'm working as a waitress.
- New Experiences. I know, I know, writing shouldn't really be an experience itself. It's all about writing about having experiences, not actually having them! But that's not how it works in practice—at least not for me. I'm constantly learning new things, about myself, about places, about human interaction—heck, in this last book I even learned about the city layout of Russian metropolitan areas! Not all of this is from the act of writing, but by sitting down and trying to write, and finding the gaps in my knowledge as I do so, I learn what I need to fill in. It gives me a starting point from which to do research, which then gives me a broader base of knowledge for the next task ahead of me. (Huge props here to my mother's medical, anatomy, and first aid books. They've given me tremendous insight into many important things such as how much damage my characters are likey to be able to survive...)
- It's Freakin' Fun. Seriously—how many jobs alow you to tell your friends "Sorry, I'd love to hang out, but I have to kill some people and cover the world in darkness." I mean, basically you have to be an author or an honest to goodness evil villain to get to say that, and if you were an evil villain you wouldn't have people asking you to hang out in the first place! So really, it's author or nothing with that line.
- Making it Better. As an author, you have an amazing opportunity that you wouldn't have in other places. You can connect in an intimate but not creepy level with complete strangers. You can share your hopes with them, and sympathise with their pains. You can offer insight into the world, and give your readers valuable perspectives. You can become part of their lives and vocabulary, and really enrich their experiences. Even though you might never know how much you meant to them, the very fact that someone might be quietly loving your work is more than enough reason to continue. (For me, anyway. I fell into the second person there and didn't feel like I should pull out halfway through the last sentence, so I added this parenthetical ammendum to acknowledge the awkwardness of number 8's point of view.)
- Acknowledgement. Some day, I'll write a blog post about exactly why I love fanfiction as much as I do, but I'll just touch on why I do here—Being acknowledged is one of the most amazing feelings a person can have. Getting reviews, hearing someone compliment your themes, having fanart done of something you've created—It makes you feel like you're on top of the world! It's a feeling of worth that settles deep in your chest, and faids very very slowly as time goes on. If you're like me, and keep writing all day every day as much as possible, you should have a pretty easily restockable supply of bubbly review-filled joy. (Of course, negative reviews go down like sour milk and tend to make everything that comes after them taste a little bitter, but eventually that taste wears away, and the more whiffs of the rotten reviews you get, the more resistant to them you become)
- It Helps Me Cope. When everything's gone to shit, when everyone I know is down and out, when I've lost somebody, or when I'm just plain depressed for no reason, writing is always there. It gives me a place to spew helpless and badly directed anger, and a safe area to cry in without feeling as though I'm burdening anyone who doesn't need to carry any of my baggage. I work out my strongest feelings in writing. It allows me an unparalelled opportunity to throw away any cares for how other people think I sound, or how they percieve me. Most of these writings never see the light of day, and I never plan for them to. Every once in a while I'll clean up one of my meditations on life and pass it along, but not often. As much as I write for other people, I write for myself too, sometimes just so that I can look at the words on the page and decisively delete them.
So that's it! Those are my top ten—or as close as I can come to them in the state of sleep deprivation I am currently inhabiting. Of course, everyone's reasons for writing are different. Some people just do it to make money—some do it only for themselves and no one else—some do it because they think it's what they ought to be doing. Whatever the reason, writing is what it is—It's the most valuable and wide-reaching form of pure communication we have.
(Do you have a reason or two I didn't touch on? Leave it/them in the comments for all to see and feel awed by!)