more on writing

Jenn posted today asking if her LJ readers considered writing an escape or a pursuit. Because her postings keep inspiring me to mini-essays, I shall share with you what I said to her. :)

Ok, I’ll give this a try.

I write because I want to know what happens next. I have general ideas, sure, but the devil is in the details and that’s what I’m after. That’s my pursuit. I want to know what happens next, and I want to be able to tell other people what happens next. That’s the base level of it for me.

On other levels: I write because I want to see what can be done, or more specifically, what *I* can do. I want to see what happens when I write Beauty and the Beast; I want to see if I can achieve the elegance of language that makes it hard for me to breathe when I read Guy Gavriel Kay. I want to explore what makes my characters, and, at least in theory, thereby people, tick. I want to make someone laugh; I want to make someone cry. I want to make someone say, “*Yeah*!” because she’s been in that moment that she’s just read–maybe not that *actual* moment, but I want to evoke a memory of passion, or create one. I want to suddenly catch my reader realizing that he’s reading a jazz piece, like happened to me when I read (I believe it was) “Sonny’s Blues”, by James Baldwin. I want to make my reader notice he’s leaning forward in his seat and holding his breath to get through to the end of the scene, because the action has got him in its grip. I pursue feeling, when I write.

I write because I want to be better at writing. There are standards to which I aspire. To make people think; to make them react, to make them angry or happy; to make them want to ban what I have to say, or to laud it. I want to tell stories that have some kind of basic truth to them. I don’t, perhaps, need to change the world with a single book, but I would like, when I’m dead, to have a body of work that someone can look back on and say, “These are the things she wrote about; these are the things that made her feel so strongly that she had to make stories of them to share with the world. These are the ideas that were her passion,” and maybe have something learned from them. Maybe have a faith in love, or redemption, or truth, or anguish, restored. These are my pursuits, in writing.

This is me, totally losing my train of thought because my editor called to ask me why I chose the name I chose to write under. Erm. Where was I?

Oh yes.

My *escape*, in writing, is that–God. I love it. I just love it. I love telling stories. I love going into these worlds inside my mind and finding out what happens next. It *is* another world; I see why people say “real life” and “writing life” as if they’re different, because… writers are a little weird, you know? I keep telling my mom that it’s not *exactly* that I have voices in my head, but there’s no better way to describe it. (And she assures me that she has no voices in her head, whether they’re described that way or not, at all, and gives me funny looks.) It’s not that I go in to writing *because* it’s an escape, but it unquestionably *is* one. The world that goes on outside of my head ceases to be the one with which I am involved for the period of time that I’m writing, and…

Okay, Mom’s right, that’s weird. Maybe it’s better not to think about this stuff too deeply. :) But, hm. I think that overall my answer is that I consider writing a pursuit, and that it’s an escape is for me an inevitable (and awesome) side effect.

3 thoughts on “more on writing

  1. I don’t know if you thought this out before or if it was created in response to the query, but you should keep it and look at it every five years to see if it remains true. These seem to be very sound reasons for writing. When you started, was your personal philosophy of writing as well formed?

  2. Yikes! Now I know why I *can’t* write anymore, for all the reasons you mentioned. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid to find out what happens next, or that there are so many things happening “next” that I can’t sort them out. The cyborg ninjas want to have a love story with the elves of Spiritwood while trying to colonize an alien planet populated with stuffed animals, conspiracy theorists, and leprechauns….

  3. It was in response to the query. My personal philosophy, when I wrote my first novel, was, “*God*, I can do better than *that*,” because I’d just read some god-awful fantasy novel.

    I had a professor in college who said people wrote because they wanted to change the world. I said, “I don’t want to change the world!” and she eyed me dubiously. I’ve considered it since, and she was probably right. I may not be able to change the world, but if I can write something that helps one person, or makes them happy or sad or–if I can write to affect just one person, I guess, then that’s… really quite a lot.

    *laugh* Scott, maybe the cyborg ninjas don’t belong in the same book as the alien planet populated with stuffed animals (I think I’ve read that book, the one about the stuffed animals) and the leprechaun elves. :)

Comments are closed.