Since my Master of Arts hand in, I’ve been feeling a little mopey and have decided to take a short break from writing/editing so that I can come back to it afresh after a week or two. So I thought I’d instead make a list of what I love about writing – a list of why I write.
1. Escapism. Yep, that old chestnut! It’s wonderful to slip away into another world, see things that are ‘impossible’ and experience things beyond the realm of our own lives.
2. Criticism. Linked to the previous point – I am not satisfied with our world, with the Way Things Are, so writing (like reading) allows me to play with other possibilities and see whether I can find anything better (or worse!). By doing so, a writer can criticise (explicitly or implicitly) the established order of our own world.
3. An Overactive Imagination. I have had one of these all my life, which makes certain activities hazardous and leads to many a sleepless night. Writing is a great way of channelling this into something productive as opposed to anxious, pointless worrying about the worst possible scenarios in my own life.
4. The sheer enjoyment of Imagining and Creating. Making things is the greatest enjoyment for me – I’ve always been a creative person, be it writing, drawing, painting or various other crafty activities. I dream of one day having a creative job in which I make, as opposed to my actual job, in which I act as someone else’s slave!
5. The Voices in my Head. Not quite as mental as it sounds, but nearly. I suppose with all that imagining, I had to imagine people who don’t exist and instead of having an imaginary friend, I have imaginary people to write about. Writers are children with imaginary friends; it’s just we try to look like we’ve grown up a bit.
6. Stories. My passion. I’ve come to realise that it’s always a story that makes me interested in something. In particular, I’ve come to realise that stories are what’s missing from my current job, which makes me so miserable working there. I’m a legal secretary, which is a job I’ve done several times, but before I’ve always worked in matrimonial and childcare, which revolves around the stories of people’s lives. Now I work with money and money doesn’t interest me – asking people to pay other people’s invoices is not a story. At best, it’s highly repetitive microfiction.
7. Learning. My other great passion. I love to learn and find out new things, and writing gives me a fantastic opportunity to do so and a way to drive and focus that learning. Writing about a fantasy world does not mean you have to do any less research – I know how 18th century men and women of different classes dressed, I know about the characteristics and lifestyles of several species, I know how Constantinople was founded and the layout of the Topkapi Palace, I know what kind of wildflowers grow in Turkey in the autumn months… I’ve learned a lot of interesting things (interesting to me, anyway!) from writing.
I’m sure there are other reason, perhaps even a hundred of them, but these are the ones that stand out in my mind, the reasons that seem to always come back, even during the times I’ve had a long break from writing.
All you lovely writers out there – why do you write? What is it that drags you back to the keyboard or the pen despite the fear or the Inner Editor? Why can you not keep away?