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?
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.