Why I Write

I was talking to a friend the other day about how most writers have vastly unrealistic ideas about the business of writing. I once shared their views as well, so this is not purely peering-down-my-nose at “those folks.” We dream of writing one stellar book, becoming instantly famous, and then retiring to a) a yacht in the Caribbean, b) a log cabin in the woods (this the Stephen King dream), or c) a villa in Italy.

I’d laugh if I didn’t have this dream myself. And I can’t say I wasn’t warned. Way back, when I first discovered my passion for writing in a class with Susan Vreeland in my senior year, a local author came to speak to us. His name was Vernor Vinge. If you love SciFi, then you’ve certainly heard of him.

We asked him a multitude of questions, but mostly he tried to illustrate the process, and demystify the glamor. I was like Teflon, and it slid right past me. One thing did stuck. He asked us all why we wanted to be writers. We had to write down our response. Of course visions of books covers with my name on it, money and fame flitted through my head. What I settled on was this: Because I have to.

I’ve spent the last twenty some odd years since then working this out. I find I’m happiest when writing, even when it frustrates me. Maybe it’s because I end the session creating something? Writing offers a level of control that is ephemeral in real life (I think this is the lure of video games to some). That’s my world in there. I created it.

So why do you write? Do you have what it takes to go the long haul?

Tim Kane

5 comments on “Why I Write

  1. Doc Coleman says:

    I was talking about this on Goodreads earlier this week. How writers have this fantasy of getting rich and famous off of the sales of a single book. The irony is that it isn’t the single book that will let you earn a living, but book after book after book. Nothing sells like a back catalog.

    As to why I write, well, I want to tell stories. Writing is the means to that end

  2. Julie says:

    I guess I’m strange. I don’t have the dream of writing one book and then retiring. I just want to get to the point where I make enough from writing that it’s my only job. I sit there and get misty-eyed over the idea of all day, every day just writing. The rest of my life as a series of books I write, that’s the dream to me.

    But I always say, I write because I can’t not write. I tried it for a long time and the only result was me being miserable and sleepless. Now I write every day and there’s a surprising peace in my world 🙂

  3. Katie says:

    I would be so sad if I only had one book in me. I write because it’s fun, because it’s the best way to develop ideas, because we as people should be growing and thinking and imagining and if it’s not written down then it is lost. I write because it agitates me not to, because, like you said, Tim, it is glorious to create something.

  4. Because… “Baby, I Was Born This Way!” 🙂

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