Resetting The Why
If I am able to string the words along properly and give some kind of accurate representation on this page that bears some resemblance to the dance they have been doing in my head for the last 3 days, then you may well get two lunchtime bloggy blog posts for the price of one.
And I may again be able to stare down a couple of demons who have been whispering shitty things to me from the shadows of my mind.
There seems to be some kind of romantic notion (good or bad) that springs to mind when you tell someone that you are a writer. Images of empty whiskey bottles strewn about the room. A glass dish big enough to be considered the murder weapon, littered with butts; evidence of nicotine fueled battles between author and muse. Crumpled sheets of rejected ideas you wished you'd written yourself if only to see where the shop keeper's son stored the dead presidents found in the pocket of the banger, dirt napping dead in front of the store on 2:30 in afternoon on a Sunday in August just before the storms rolled in to clear the stench of piss from the air and the stain of blood from the sidewalk.
The other extreme is equally terrifying. The project board and perfectly detailed notes. Color coded and cross-referenced on a separate print out. Dates and word counts clearly displayed, sticky-notes flapping proudly like the trophy case of the state-champion high school. A subtle nod of intimidation, whether intentional or not, to any who might want to one day throw their own hat into the ring. Dipping their metaphorical and very literal pen into the ink that is both fuel and vessel. Ship and roiling sea.
I won't tell you where I fall on that spectrum. Likely you already have your own idea.
A friend of mine had a setback. Not a minor one. One that knocked the wind out of the sails. One of those 'question the very reason for donning a cutlass and eye-patch and thinking they could make a go of this pirate' kind of thing. I got a note from them at the time. It said simply, "I need to reexamine my why."
Like many things this particular friend writes, the words hit me in a way I didn't see coming.
Now, to be fair, comparison is death. But you're lying if you say that you don't use someone who inspires you to at least build the guidelines for your own benchmarks. At some point, there is a shift and the milestones and goals are truly your own. The shift from "I want to do XYZ just like so and so" soon becomes, "I want to do XYZ."
But there's always the why.
Why am I a writer?
Not what makes me think I am a writer?, but why do I write?
The thing that really pissed me off when I started to think about the why was the fact that it didn't seem like too long ago I was just coming to grips with even telling the world that I was a writer. I mean, fuck, man...give me a minute to just be able to say that I am a writer first.
It doesn't work like that.
I'm looking at my words. I'm looking at what I've written in the last 6 months (and it really doesn't feel like much, if I'm being honest), and I realize that I really need to stop and look at my why.
And I didn't want to.
Because I already know part of my why. And facing that part in the light of day sucks. It just really...
It just sucks.
I grew up needing to feel like what I did mattered. That it was good. That you liked it. That you wanted me to do more of it.
In one of the hundreds of personality tests out there, I come back as an Obliger. This means that I will put your needs above my own if given a choice. And I did, a lot.
I still do.
And I know that tendency has crept in and morphed into part of my why. Now, having the obliger tendency in itself is not a bad thing. As long as you recognize it and realize that it's ok to actually take some time for you and do things for you before someone else.
That's just it, though. Part of the 'why' for me is because inside me there is still that little kid, unsure, holding out the paper with a space battle drawn in pen, hoping that the person they are showing it to will tell me it's the best thing they've ever seen. But more than that, I want the people I love to tell me that they have read my words. Love them or hate them, I just want to be read.
There. There is it. Part of me writes because I read Stephen King growing up. I read Koontz. I read Tolkien and Asimov. And Douglas Adams. And Piers Anthony.
And I loved them all. I hung on every word.
As a writer, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't want that. That I don't want someone to fall in love with my voice and my style and to hang on every word, wondering what the next glorious page will hold.
I do. Part of me wants that.
I write because I want to make you happy, and there's a part of me that's vain enough to think that my words can do that. Can bring a feeling, an emotion, and take you to a place you've never been.
I write because there are writers who inspire me. And I want to pay them back for that inspiration. I want to show them that what they wrote matters.
And I want to be that inspiration for someone else.
Yes...it's true. There is a part of me, of every writer that says they would write every day, because to not write is tantamount to not breathing, as dramatic as it sounds. And yes, I would write anyway, even if I knew it wasn't going to be read. But I can tell you that stuff that I write half thinking no one will ever or want to ever read it...that stuff is raw. And it's probably garbage. But yes, I still write.
The other reason I write is because I feel like I'm fairly fucked up in the head. And for me, writing is way I can create characters who may or may not be messed up in the same ways that I am, and I can walk them through scenarios in the story. I can make things happen to them, for them, and by them.
And maybe, just maybe they will get their happily ever after.
Because if the characters in my stories get their happily every after, then maybe I will too.
So..yeah. There's the brutal why. And it's pretty clear that I won't stop writing until either the happy ending happens in real life or I run out of ways for my characters to find theirs.
I hope you'll come along for the ride.
And, unfortunately, I've run out of minutes in my lunch break (and I just killed the oatmeal cream pie). The second piece on the crushing self-minimizing will have to wait for another lunch, I'm afraid.
Until then, I hope you'll tell all of your friends about the raw post thrown out on the interwebs by one of your soon to be favorite writers.
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