Why Writers Write… (and other deep thoughts)
It occurred to me that although my book, Writing Tips #42: The incomplete guide for the self-published (Where to find it… Shush… that’s the only plug I’m going to make) covered a lot of serious, and not so serious, topics that confront authors in this new world of self-publishing. I neglected to address the “why” component. Why do we write? What make us put pen to paper and share our innermost demons with the world?
For some, a rare few, it’s the ability to earn a living doing the thing that they love. For others, it’s the desire teach, or send a message out into the world that has meaning or significance. For most, I think it has a lot to do with legacy. A small piece of themselves that will be around long after they have died. No matter the genre, the thoughts and the feelings; a portion of the author’s very soul, goes into the novel they have created.
Human beings, by their very nature, have a desire to build and create; to leave something behind for future generations to remember. At one point in my life I built my own house (actually, I had a friend that was a contractor who did most of the work, but I bought the beer) but when I moved to a different city, it was left behind. My name was nowhere to be found on the building and although it was a very nice house, it didn’t truly say much about who I was.
I’ve also restore an old car or two in my life, (actually, I had a friend that was a mechanic that did most of the work, but I bought the beer) and although the old cars reflected my personality more than my house, I doubt they will be around in a hundred-years, assuming they are even still on the road.
Writing however, is a different beast altogether. It has been said that a novel is a conversation with the reader, but it’s also a conversation with the author. Within every page, you kind find a piece of the author’s mind. Every romance novel reveals the writer’s views of love; with horror, their fears. Even within erotica you can find the novelists suppressed, or perhaps not, fantasies of sexual exploration. (Yes, EL James, your prudish great grandchildren, although probably still living off the trust funds you’ve set aside for them, will be saying, “Wow… Grandma liked to get freaky!”)
Several authors, whom I respect immensely, have said that I write naked, that I leave my soul on the page and my readers can feel my hurt, frustration, happiness and anger. I surmise every author does that to some extent, sometimes you just have to look a little more deeply. From within their works you can find their sense of humor, or their sense of passion. The words they choose speak to their personality and attitudes towards others. (I’m never condescending… that means talking down so you can understand me… just kidding.)
Until comparatively recently, only select people were allowed to put themselves out into the universe of the written word. Thanks to the advent of self-publishing, anyone that wishes to become immortal has the opportunity. For good or for ill, when I leave this strange plane of existence we call Earth, a portion of me will exist and continue to live on. If my great-great-great grandchildren wish to know a little about me, they can read one of my novels (I’ll be in the public domain by then, they won’t have to pay a cent.)
Perhaps these ramblings only relate to my reasons for writing, I’ve never conducted a survey after all. I have many author friends who have a similar understanding that their works will speak to the nature of who they were posthumously but oddly… a few that don’t. It does make we wonder… what will my descendants say about me a hundred years hence?
Damn! I should have used a pseudonym…. Really not the first time I’ve said that…