Why do I write?

It’s obvious that every single person has their own approach to writing, and I of course have my own approach to mine. It’s probably accurate to say that different people have different reasons for writing, just as different people have different reasons for painting, drawing, composing music and mixing chemicals in the lab to see if they explode. Another preliminary point worth making is that sometimes people’s initial reasons for trying out a particular art form develop into another.

My initial reason for giving writing a shot, was because I had tried my hand at drawing and music with less success than I would like. With drawing, I was a disaster, and while I wasn’t “terrible” at music, I found the idea of playing another person’s compositions to an audience, quite strange. Although I was perfectly capable of appreciating it, I felt at the time that it was the composer’s own work, and his or her original version should be the definitive one until said otherwise. Classical composers had given their consent to orchestras to perform their works, and I had gotten no such go-ahead myself.  I did play the accordion and tin whistle, and gave the flute a try for a while, but was never quite good quite good enough to compose anything more than the most basic of tunes. In fairness, it took me about three or four years to get tired of playing traditional Irish music at a low standard, and although I still play the odd bit of traditional Irish music, it’s not something I pursue with much vigour. Over the years, it’s become steadily less frequent.

Writing was the logical next step after playing music. Firstly, it is something that I can teach myself, simply by doing it. Secondly, I have always loved reading, and the books that I read provide me with a standard to aspire too. Thirdly, it allows me complete creative freedom, and I have always possessed the desire to create and develop a form of art. I also did enjoy writing short stories in school, and had gotten at least some praise by teachers for them.

Just like with music, I was a bit naïve when starting, and my initial attempts at writing a novel were abject failures. I blindly wanted to create something lasting, but had no idea where to start. I was reading a lot of fantasy novels at the time, and so I just decided to go and write some generic fantasy novel, that involved an unlikely hero, magic, demons, and three races: men, elves and dwarves. From the start, it seemed, the book was doomed to failure; however I pressed on, and finished it, thus proving to myself that I was capable of at least completing a project.

It was then that I got to the question, yet again of: “why do I write?” The desire to create something was too general. I needed to know what it was that I wanted to create. The medium, whether it was visual, sound based, text based or sculpted did not matter to me that much. The answer did not come quickly, and I had already finished a draft of my second and current novel when I got it. I’ll lay them all out for you.

60% – To explore what human beings are deep down, what drives them, and what causes human society to evolve.

35% – To create something of lasting artistic merit.

5% – To create something that will challenge current pre-conceptions of the fantasy genre.

  • The first reason is down to my fascination with the subject of the individual’s place within society. This is mainly why I picked the fantasy genre, because it gives me the ability to create a world from scratch, for my characters to inhabit. Then I create obstacles for them to overcome, or succumb to.

  • The second reason is merely down to a human desire to be recognised and remembered after death. It’s the same reason the Pharaohs built the pyramids, and people today pay a fortune to have gravestones constructed for when they pass. Writing and music tend to last a lot longer than gravestones, it would appear, but only if they have merit! Until my writing does, this is still nothing but a hope.

  • The third reason is a relatively minor one, but I am constantly irked by how most fantasy books are so very similar. Pre-conceptions have clearly restricted the creativity of fantasy authors, and seeing as I’m technically writing within that genre, I may as well try to make my book as original as it possibly can.

My deep seated desire to create has remained as strong as ever, but now I am focusing on what I wish to explore the most – individuals and society. These themes play strong roles in my current project, Earldust, as a result. It’s not surprising that outside of writing, my biggest love is politics, something that all to often finds its way into my novels and short stories, in one form or another.

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  1. 33%: Challange oneself to both create a functioning world with effective characters, and manage to do this in a way that will engage potential readers.

    33% Disseminate ideas that people will be interested in, say something worthwhile.

    33%: Provide a lasting body of work that can be passed on to my descendants, friends, ideological fellow travelers, and even enemies so that my words may outlive the hands that type them out.

    Something like that.

    I started writing because I found the endings of the stories that I read unsatisfactory. I had had an interest in world-creation, and even writing, for a time, but my real writting was spurred on by my dissatisfaction. Stories that other authors finished SHOULDN’T have been finished where they were, they should have continued on. Also, a certain type of story should have been written that wasn’t . I always saw my work as filling in gaps that the rest of the world hadn’t, although i never had pretensions to being better or even at the same level as many of those writers.

    I choose fantasy and sci-fi because they have the most conceptual freedom, most “rule of cool” and because it was what I read at the time of starting. I read “real” novels and such, just not every often.

    For some reason my stories don’t often involve people. Dragons and cats were the first subjects I wrote on, it took me several years to become interested in writing about the doings of people. Now it’s Dogs and Dragons, my subjects haven’t changed very much at all.

    • Jak
    • September 19th, 2011

    100%- Because I enjoy it. If I did not enjoy it, I wouldn’t write, no matter what kind of artistic statements I hold inside me or what sort of agenda I want to advance. There are easier ways of expressing oneself than through words; I chose this one because I just love doing it.

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