Did you know that today is the first National Day on Writing? Neither did I, before this morning. Thankfully, several of the writerly types I follow on twitter posted messages about why they write into a collective stream designated by the tag "#whyiwrite".
While I don’t know that I would have done it two years ago, I felt compelled to add my own two cents.
Funny thing, though, just as my fingers were poised over the keys to tap it out, I got a little stuck.
I write because I…um…
You know…I need to write…because…uh…
Look! A squirrel! *runs off*
Ok, it wasn’t that bad. I did have a moment’s pause, though, because I wasn’t sure, for once, that I could articulate it. I mean, I write because I love to do it, get grumpy like a backed up octogenarian who’s been palming his Metamucil when I don’t do it, and now can’t imaging ever not doing it, having opened the floodgates of it.
But those aren’t reasons why, really. They’re effects, not causes.
So, at its root, did I really know why? Well, actually, after a quick bit of introspection, some staring at the ceiling, maybe a few moments of navel gazing, yes, hells yes, I knew why. It’s because, you know, the voices. Wait, maybe we shouldn’t talk about the voices. My legal team told me not to mention them outside of court. You know how it is.
Anyway, I finally realized exactly why, even if it’s more than just a little hokey. Thus, I tweeted:
See? Hokey. But every word of it’s true. I’ve finished the first draft of my first novel, and I’m slightly more than halfway through the first pass of editing. When I’m all done polishing, shining, and dressing it up for queries, the fact is that I might never successfully sell it to anyone. But you know what? Even if no one ever has a chance to read it besides my wife and mother, if it never gets an official ISDN number, and earns nothing more than a thousand red "Rejected" stamps inked in the blood of my innocence, I’ll still be glad I wrote it.
And I’ll write another after it, and another after that, and another after that. Because all these strange, wonderful people live in my head, with strange, wonderful problems and strange, wonderful hopes. But they’re not real enough. They’re flat, kind of lifeless, bare suggestions of their potential. Like sad, deflated pool floats.
And let’s face it, nobody wants to see that Mr. Ponytube laying all limp and flat on top of the pool. Especially in their head.
I don’t want them to be lifeless. I want them to be alive. To have voices and goals, conflicting emotions and a two feet firmly in the world, whatever that world happens to be. I want them to make sense and not just be caricatures from a filmstrip.
And the only way to do that is to write them down, get them out of that place in my head, and make the world around them live.
Of course, that’s just the fictional characters. That’s not really all I write, now, is it? Turns out I spend a not-insignificant amount of writing "quick" posts like these a few times a week.
So, then, why do I write Puddintopia posts?
That one’s a little more difficult. In the beginning it was supposed to be practice. You want to be a writer, you’ve got to write stuff, so a daily-or-so blog post was intended to kind of grease the wheels, keep the water flowing through the dyke, prevent me from grinding down to a word-making standstill because I decided to instead spend three months researching cupcake sprinkles and playing Dora’s Magical Bridge Adventure on Xbox.
What? Oh, uh…forget I mentioned it.
The point is that I did my 120,000 words about nothing, and I drafted that first novel. So I write now, right? No reason to stick so closely to the blog posting, then, is there? Especially since I’m not really blogging the way I’m supposed to blogging in this day and age (that’s so another post).
Here’s the thing, though: I like this writing too, need it. Not in the same way it brings life to shadows, but because it lets me express myself. See, most people are more than happy to rely on their mouths for self expression.
But mine just doesn’t work sometimes.
Often, I’ll be asked a question and my brain will start to go go go, thoughts popping around like balls in a lottery hopper. But somewhere between there and my vocal cords, everything gets lost, jumbled. By the time I start making actual sounds, I end up muttering and often look your average high school student when presented with multivariable calculus.
I expect it’s not unlike the look Gomer Pyle used to get when Sergeant Carter was ever-so-sensitively explaining (at the top of his lungs) what Pyle’d screwed up this time.
Ask the Puddinette how many times we’ve had conversations where my responses might as well have been delivered by Bobo, the Orangutan.
When writing, though, I rarely have that problem. The words all line up in my head before I put them on screen, just like the lottery balls for the too-blond lady with the 80′s hair running the hopper.
And that’s not just here. That goes for twitter, facebook, emails, what have you.
So, why do I write, whatever I write?
Because it’s the best way I know how to express myself without becoming Bobo.
Well, and because sometimes it makes the Puddinette laugh.
And that’s really all the reason I need.