“If you write, why do you write?” a friend asked on Facebook yesterday.
It’s a good question, and of course there are many answers. I found some bubbling to the top of my brain almost immediately, but not all were very convincing. (“Because I have an important message for the world that it desperately needs to hear,” yes I’m looking at you. Nor, on reflection, do I really find the idea of wearing black polo-neck sweaters in a Greenwich Village loft apartment that attractive.)
Here are the ones that made the cut. Please note that no other reasons for writing are valid, aside from those given below. (But disagree, if you must, in the comments.)
- For the money [cue hollow laugh here]. Or at least for the ever-receding prospect
of living by my
penmouse. It could happen – right?
- Because I have a story that seems to want telling, and it keeps hammering at my brainpan like a drunk trying to get into a late-night hostel.
- Because I like to see my name printed on the spines of books in bookshops. And in my house. And in other people’s houses. And on billboards, TV screens, cinema posters…
- A shed of one’s one.
- The technical aspects of writing a story are absorbing and satisfying, equally engaging of the heart, mind and spirit.
- Because I combine an inexhaustible interest in other human beings with a wish to spend large parts of every day out of their company.
- As a way to cheat death. I like to imagine that something of myself will survive me, and particularly that my descendants feel some personal connection beyond a name and dates.
- Like C. S. Lewis, I write the kinds of book I would like to read, and want to make sure there are more of them.
- Because there aren’t many jobs where strangers come up and tell you they admire you, and even ask for your autograph. Not that this happens to me very often, but it seems odd that writers should get this kind of treatment, when useful people like plumbers and brain surgeons generally don’t.
- It’s a habit – quite possibly a bad one.
- I’m rubbish at drawing and can’t dance, so writing (along with descant recorder) is my only outlet for self-expression.
- Because the profound satisfaction of having produced a successful story marginally outweighs the profound frustration involved in the production.
- Because it’s show business – for recluses.