This week, word guru Chuck Wendig has offered a different spin on his weekly Flash Fiction Challenge. He asks to write a summary of a simple phrase, “Why I write?” Three simple words have a layered and complicated answer.
Why do I write? I have often stared into the mirror, examining the haggard face mocking my every move and wondered the same thing. I have written many things over the years, but never have I actually set out with the purpose of writing stories for the entertainment of others. Unlike other writers I have not: 1) been writing stories since I was a toddler 2) had a life changing experience that gives me a desire to write 3) been writing for years, honing the craft to perfection 4) suffered a loss that could only be expressed through written word 5) been abducted by mimes and held at imaginary gunpoint over an invisible typewriter forced to tell the history of the International Association of Assassin Mimes and Reptile-Training Plumbers. None of these things caused me want to write.If none of those things happened then why do I write? I may not have always been a writer, but I have always told stories. Some tall, some small. I love to entertain. The sight of others hanging on every word that vomits forth from my mouth. The feeling as a friend drags some poor unwitting soul towards you saying, “Hey, tell that story about the time you ended up in the Panamanian brothel dressed like a Can-can girl with two drunken sloths and an albino boa.” It is the pure entertainment value of relating tales to others. There is a large slice of narcissism mixed into the writing batter also. Being center stage, absorbing the limelight, and hopeful adoration of the audience is a byproduct of it.
Yet writing differs from verbal tales of wonder and suspense spilled over whiskey and beer. Writing enables a person to imagine and share fantastical locales. It allows the inner story-teller to change “fish stories” into intergalactic voodoo pirates riding space whales stories. Writing allows anyone to journey into to dusty regions of your imagination and bring back stories of wonderment. Writing enables a person to become a 5 year old child again, turning immobile toys into stories for everyone.
As fun as it all is, I will admit; I didn’t know what was in Pandora’s Pencil Box. In my child-like enthusiasm I assumed it would be as simple as putting thoughts into words. With that simple process came a multitude of complications along the way. The very process of trying to be a read writer, proved to be the first obstacle. Today’s world of literature isn’t just writing a story. It means blogs, tweets, facebooks, research, rules, factions, blood, tears, and all the tidbits that fall in the cracks along the way. It means actually being there before you are there. It means having a presence before you actually produce anything. Technology has changed the writing process that makes it easier for anyone with a tale and some spare time. For every good story out there, there are thousands just like it. This I wasn’t ready for.
Another thing that went against my desire to write was myself. By myself, I mean my over active imagination. It started with one story I wanted to tell the world. That branched into two tales. Very soon I felt overwhelmed by the mere volume of ideas and stories tumbling around in my skull. Reigning those in I picked two and began to write.
This seems more a report on why I don’t write, or how hard writing is. To sum up why I write can be quite simple. I enjoy it. I enjoy spilling my weirdness to others. I always hope beyond hope that a single person finds entertainment in my ramblings. I write because I write. Now that I have begun this masochistic endeavor I feel that I cannot do without. I write because I am a writer, a storyteller, and an entertainer. I write because I want to write. I write because, for good or for ill, I am having fun.