Why Friday


Well, blogging bud and fellow wannabe writer Linda asked a great series of questions at her place about why writers write what they do.

It gave me a great deal of pause, really. I’ve never thought about why I might be doing what I do when I sit at the keyboard and write. She had some great insights and shared some pretty honest stuff about her writing and then tossed it out to all of us in the Peanut Gallery: Why do you write what you do?

But she went deeper than that – as any good writer would – and asked a few more questions I found interesting. I’m not deep enough to expound on those things, or even to pontificate on them. But I did find them thought provoking and figured I’d at least try and scratch the surface here.

Why write that? Why write what you write?

I know if I move in certain circles I’ll be condemned eventually for what I write as fiction. Oh, I won’t go into the reasons here, because it’s never happened and even if it did I wouldn’t much care. But I’ve long held the belief what I write could never be what the condemning crowd reads. The twain can never meet, period.

But I thought about it and now I wonder. Hm.

I don’t write because I have to. I’ve stopped; stopped for a good long while. And I can stop, but won’t. I don’t care how many “gurus” and “published authors” say it, I’ll never heed the advice if you can quit, you should; real writers can’t stop writing.

That’s poppycock. I know a lot of writers and at some point, most of ‘em stopped for a time. Voluntarily. Until such a time as they didn’t want to stop anymore. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is their prerogative. I may be the best artist on God’s green earth, but if I don’t feel like drawing or painting, I ain’t gonna, and no one can tell me I have to.

I don’t write horror because I have to, either. I’ve written plenty of non-horror stuff, but it’s always gonna bend dark. Yessir. Some may not call it horror, and that’s fine. I don’t do gore, but I don’t do happy either. (Drives my wife crazy.) I tend toward the dark, the sardonic, the weird, the creepy and downright scary if I can achieve it (rare for me). Don’t read my stuff to feel good. Not gonna happen.

I don’t write for myself. I’ve tried that. It just doesn’t work for me. I’m not saying it’s not okay for others, but I know myself. I have to have someone read my work or I’ll go bonkers, end up twitching and drooling. I need the knowledge of intake by another person. My kids NEED to have one of us look at and approve of their drawings when they do them – all of them. No exceptions. My level of busy is irrelevant. Stop, Dad, and check out what I drew  and say it’s cool or else there’s no point to us drawing.

They obviously get that from me. I have to have someone see what I’ve done. I have to. Megalomania? Narcissism? Maybe. But I need to have someone read my work.

This actually helps me a bit. Now I know one reason I write: To be read. But why do I write what I do? Why the horror feel? Do I need a plot or can characters drive my story? (I don’t think I exactly know what that last bit means, no matter how I try.)

I don’t know. But I know I write to be read, and the next logical step in that process is to get published.

Well … okay. The next step is to have something I can submit. Heh.

Details.

What drives your passion? Writers, why do you write what you write? do you know?

-JDT-

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13 thoughts on “Why Friday

  1. I write just so see the word “poppycock” more. That word does not get enough use. Poppycock. Poppycock. Poppycock.

    Of course, as I’ve said to the other commentators, the real question of the post is “Why do you write WHAT you write?” But I can totally see why you’d write “poppycock” … sure beats “flower dick”, don’t it? Much classier, I think.

    • Flower dick… Hmmm…

      Don’t laugh too hard. There’s an actual anatomical part of a flower analogous to a human penis. But I probably should have gone with something like “daisy dick” or “chrysanthemum cock” instead, huh?

  2. I heard a rare interview of Woody Allen years ago. He was asked “where does the comedy come from”? He replied without hesitation: “I don’t know. It just comes.”

    And Gary Larson once said there’s no secret book in a chest in his grandfather’s attic with the title “5001 Weird Cartoon Ideas”, either. 🙂

    I live by that. I don’t know why I even like to write. I do know that I would not allow the inner me to be exposed in writing in my life until now when I am a couple of years from the big and burdensome 70. Not writing until now and being 70 are both mysteries. It’s all unbelievable.

    I know most of us can’t answer the “why do you write?” question; I’ve asked it a bunch of times here myself and always get great and gracious answers. This time, I messed up though; the question of the post is “Why do you write WHAT you write?” I think I lost it in the ramble of my post somewhere. 😦

    Writing ideas are the black holes of the writer’s universe. We just don’t know what’s in there. Experience – maybe. But I go to bed nights with a problem and wake up in the morning with the solution.

    I believe that creative people have to have confidence in their own way of creating. If you need to unplug and go out into the world and refresh that is your way and it is valid. I doubt you are out there in a “unwriting” state. You are out there taking it all in and processing it in some way. You will go back to your writing refreshed, renewed and just get it all out there. That is your MO. You have to do it that way.

    I’m awfully glad that your time off from writing does not mean time off from these posts. Keep on keeping on.

    Well, thank you. I’m glad you enjoy them. 🙂 I certainly appreciate you coming by and leaving such thoughtful comments. Time is precious; I’m grateful you’ve chosen to spend yours with me.

    Perhaps my late father’s (test pilot) motto that he lived by will help. He told us to hold it close and to live by it. It was and is sacred: “Wet birds never fly at night.” This is why I take mottoes at face value. Who knows where they come from, eh? 🙂

    Well … if I’m ever a wet bird, I’ll be SURE to remember your father’s sacred words. 😉 Test pilot, huh? Extra-cool.

    • Oh good idea. Gary Larson. Thanks bud. Think I’ll read some o’ that right now.

      He and Bill Watterson were my favorites o’ all time.

    • Sorry I misread the title – Dyslexia strikes again and engages imagination.

      On that one, well, I guess it is your whole life that dictates that and what bubbles up onto the page is that which you really what interests you most at the moment that you want to figure out like a puzzle, arrange like flowers and share for the enjoyment and edification of others. You sharing you is unique in the world and that is where the interest is for us. So give it over. This is a stick up!

      I had a writer’s workshop with the late John Gardner (he grew up down the road in Batavia, NY). Quite a guy (and sexy) and his first wife a gem – and his cousin. He sent real writers to a publisher immediately. It’s a gift. Workshops are for the ones who need group therapy to get it all out there in the way they were meant to – without self-consciousness and looking over their shoulder to the giants of the past/present.AND most important – to realize like any other endeavor – practice makes perfect or as a local author friend put it “to keep the seat of your pants on the chair.” I was just an observer as in much of life. “On Moral Fiction” and “On Writing Fiction” are works with which I am certain you are familiar.

      http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/14/john-gardner-pugilist-at-rest/

      http://research-writing-techniques.suite101.com/article.cfm/the-art-of-fiction

      Actually, I’m quite ignorant on many things, some of them on this topic (which is supposedly a passion of mine). How ignorant might shock you. So I’m grateful for the links and I’ll check them out. Thank you! 🙂

      • PS Proust started to summon up what he would write about with a cup of tea. However, that does not seem to be the average writer’s brew. I ease on into a chocolate/vanilla twist ice cream cone. Then comes the “what.” Sadly it is not what others may want to read about but that is unimportant to me. The “what” is that which I have to do. It may have been sitting there since age 2.

        Interesting. I think it’s as good an explanation as I’ve been able to come up with myself. 🙂

      • EVERYONE has gaps. I was a reference librarian for many years and I always prefaced my answers to questions with “I’m going to assume you know nothing about this and so will answer in a way that is intended to fill in gaps, not insult your intelligence.”

  3. Why do I write? Why do people do anything? The reasons I write are all connected. There isn’t one absolute reason. If I weren’t writing or making art, I’d be going out of mind. Mostly because I hate to do be making/creating something. I can sit and watch a TV show I really love, but just to sit and watch TV drives me crazy. Just sitting. Nothing going on. I can feel myself wasting away when I just sit and watch TV and that seems to be the main alternative these days. I want to be able to point to something and say, “I made that.”

    But there are lots of valid reasons to write and to not write. I don’t question other people’s reasons.

    I think I may have muddied the real question with my rambling post. The question of why do we write has been done to DEATH, here and other places. The real question of the post is, why do you write WHAT you write? the subject matter? For me, it’s horror, but what is it for you and why?

    Hope that helps clarify the question.

    • Well, that’s how my imagination works. Don’t know why. I write what I imagine. Why I imagine those things would take therapy I can’t afford.

      LOL — awesome. I can’t afford it either, so I’m back to using Gary Larson’s 5001 Weird Cartoon Ideas book to see if I can steal a book. 😉

  4. I write my blog to vent so I don’t go crazy and kill someone. I feel better once I’ve written it out. The anger passes and I don’t dwell on the insult, slight, bad manners or rudeness. I try to be a little funny in this because if I can’t laugh, I will still go crazy.

    Ah, the cathartic blogger. How well I know the salve.

    Many of my short stories are things I have in my head…feelings I have, things I would like to do, things I wish would happen. Remember that one guy who critiqued one of my stories and said he didn’t like authors who created pretend crazy characters because they weren’t authentic? My stories aren’t about a fictional character, they are about my visions and that real thin line that keeps me on the good side.

    If he only knew.

    I think he tried too hard to sound too self-important and literati, frankly. If only he knew … or we CARED. 😉

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