Friday, May 15, 2009

It’ll make you go blind

Charles here, and today I’m taking a break from my series of oh-so-informative blogs about the parallels between writing fiction and writing ads (and yes, you old cynic, there is a difference.) Today I want to jump into the discussion that John started and Debby blogged about – the when, where and, most importantly, the whys of writing.

There are those among you with a particular frame of reference who saw the title of today’s blog and know already where this blog is going. Because while both John and Debby gave these really inspirational, altruistic and mysteriously esoteric motivations for writing, being me I have to lead us down another path and it is simply this – we do it because it feels good.

Most of us started in our youth and, despite lots of other outlets for our creativity—careers, community service, tax form completion—we stick to this one time-honored activity. It’s something best done alone, although I know a few daring souls who do it with a partner and a few exhibitionist who do it in coffee shops. It’s kept us up late at night, made our mind wander during the day and often when the urge to do it strikes us—on a walk, out at dinner, at a long wedding ceremony—doing so would be seen as rude. We think we can control it and that eventually we’ll stop, but we know that that’s not ever going to happen.

I don’t care how you wrap it up, writing is essentially a narcissistic, self-aggrandizing activity. “I know you know how to write and I’m sure you could tell a story, but MY words are worth reading and MY story is worth preserving for the ages.” Yup, they might go to great lengths to deny it but authors have big egos that they like to have stroked. And that’s a good thing. Imagine reading a book—or listening to a song or watching a play or viewing a painting—created by someone who didn’t have a big ego. It would be a insipid, soulless, milquetoast experience, and It would be torture.

So go ahead, come up with your muse-based rationales for writing, but when you’re alone in your office late at night, we know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.

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