“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic, and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”
― Graham Greene
I’m not going to start off this article with a starry-eyed reminiscence of how I longed to write as a child and left little scribbles of unfinished genius yet to be found in my bedroom in my childhood home. Even though that may be true.
No. My purpose of sitting down and writing this instead of tooling around on Toon Blast is to clarify for myself as to why I write. And you’re gonna listen.
While you, as a reader (and all authors are readers) may think the answer is simple: I like to make up stories. Or you see the quotes bandied around social media about “the story within” and all that deep writerish navel-gazing, the truth is different for each writer.
Some writers pick up the pen or open that document with the anticipation of making it rich, quick, and soon. And, with the advent of ebooks and the instant ability to publish, some authors make quite a bit of good money doing just that. Some hit it big right out of the gate, some toil for years before their books are discovered and some never hit that goal at all and quit in despair. This last group sees all the other authors making so much money, in the top 100, on the best-sellers list, and they think “I can never be that” and give up.
But although I do suffer from that “why can’t that be me” syndrome —because who doesn’t want to make a pile of cash from doing something they love—there’s a different type of drive that keeps me putting pen to paper, even if all my books combined have less than 50 reviews.
I don’t write for the money. I write because I have stories to tell. Many stories. Many variations of stories. So many stories that they bottleneck inside my brain and it’s difficult to get them down on paper the way that I want them. But still I write. Because I need to express myself. And I need you to read it.
Earlier this year, I planned on giving up writing. I felt my process was stale and despite the over sixteen (16) stories I had on my hard drive in various stages of completion, I thought that it was all over. Forget writing. It was a fool’s game, right? I would take up crochet, learn an instrument, do anything but sit down in front of an unforgiving computer screen and an even more unforgiving inner editor and pound out another story that only seven people would read.
I resigned myself to this fate. Watched a lot of Netflix. Made a lot of horror trivia quote pictures. Arranged my Google Play music library. At first it was fun. I had no deadlines, no nagging feeling that what I just wrote wasn’t good enough, no urge to scribble down character conversations that flitted through my head. I dismissed writing, choosing instead to press “next” to watch whatever else was coming up on Hulu or Amazon Video. Crocheted a shawl. Considered taking up needlepoint again.
Unfortunately, my carefree write-less life did not last. My mind kept circling those stories, like a shark just off Amity Island. The frantic splashes of characters frolicking, the vibrations of conversation, the whispers of future plans. I tried to ignore it, but it inexorably drew me in, building on top of the foundation that I’d given these characters to create their own lives, while I studiously snacked on cheese crisps and squeezed either a remote, a book or a crochet hook in my sweaty palm. No pen. No keyboard.
I wanted no more part of the uphill battle to get the right words down on paper. No, thank you. Been there, done that.
But then, something started to happen. The movies got boring. The crochet grew tedious. And I could not read a book without inserting how I’d make it work and what characters I would use.
You see, I am a writer.
Don’t be fooled by the timid veneer writers put on social media. The groans and grumbles of not begin able to write….banging our heads against the keyboard…..writer’s block….
Writers are vain. We are egotists. We are self-centered. We are determined to stand out from the crowd and leave a legacy that will cement a little bit of immortality. Ten, twenty years from now, someone will pick up/download a book that we’ve written.
Now, writers, I love you but miss me with the: “I’m a very nice person. I’m not vain. I’m a very generous person. I’m not self-centered.” Please. Let’s not pretend anymore. We love and cuddle our stories like our precious. After we’re done, we want you to buy and read them. Guess what, world? WE ARE AUTHORS and this is how we do. Name it and claim it. Own your shit.
Writers are revolutionaries. We want to show you our side of things, how things go for us. I don’t write about Black heroines by accident, people. I got tired of seeing how many black women were portrayed in media and set out to change it, at least in my little corner of the world. And the fact that most of them are a little weird, a little flighty, a little stubborn and a whole lot smart should also tell you something about me. (See previous paragraph). Writing, for many authors, is an act of defiance. It’s a call out about what we think is wrong with society and our attempt to call attention to it. (again, see the “writers are vain” section)
Writers are miserable and woefully insecure. Come on, it’s not like you didn’t know this already. “Are my books witty? Are they funny? Will you buy my next book? If I tell you a funny story, will you want to read my book? Is my cover sexy enough? I don’t want a sexy cover, but, I don’t know, should I do it? If I don’t have a sexy cover, will my book sell? Is that comma in the right place? Did I use the word ‘smile’ too much? Do you think my heroine is too ditzy? What about my hero? Too geeky? Will readers like him? Will readers like her? Will readers like meeeeeeee?”
I think you get the picture.
That’s why I write. I want you to know what’s on my mind, what I’m thinking, my opinions. I also want you to be entertained, angered, touched or in some way affected by the words I put down. It’s a love letter from me to me, but I’m gonna let you read it.
Also, have you bought any of my books?
Til next time…