November 4 question - Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?
So what insecurities do I have for you this month? Well, I once said, "I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up." I think it was last week sometime. Seriously, I hate the way this world works. For some reason, I grew up with the notion that I needed to picture the life I wanted, and then work whatever job I had to in order to keep it. And that is what I have done. I have always worked, sometimes two or three jobs, to make sure I could keep my house and my car and my artistic supplies addiction, all while trying to decide what to do with my bachelor of arts degree during a recession.
So when I lost my third job in a row due to merger/closure/recession in 2009 I looked for a job I would never lose. I became a teacher. Like most things I set my mind to, I was good at it. I picked up a masters degree, and went on my merry way (with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt).
I say all this to explain the fact that I have never really stopped to figure out what I wanted to actually spend my life doing. I knew I wanted a family, I knew I wanted to live comfortably, but for some reason I never considered that I would spend ten hours every day doing something I did not necessarily love in order to get those things.
Luckily my husband is a genius and he discovered this massive secret that rich people have been keeping about financial independence and early retirement. So I might get to enjoy sailing the world with my children in the next decade or two, instead of waiting for my sixties to be free to use my time for myself.
So how does this relate to my reason for writing?
I write because it feels like something I can do successfully* and enjoy doing.
*Keep in mind, successfully relates to last month's post. I consider myself successful if I have produced something I am proud of. I do intend to share what I produce, but I will not measure my success by whether or not it creates an income for me.
Every job or career I have ever pursued has brought success. I work my hardest no matter what I do. But writing is not a job for me. It also is not a hobby. I do not consider my writing to be like my other artistic talents. Somehow it is more serious, and it is definitely more structured. I never carved out time every day to paint or sew. I did share my gardening and beekeeping on a blog once upon a time, and kept a journal or two on my progress and research, but even that is different, because the garden does not come with me when I travel, and I was not able to bring it with me when I moved across the country. It no longer exists outside of my memories.
I write because it is a part of me that materializes into the real world. Even though it manifests outside of me, I can take it with me. I write because it feels like the closest I can get to my lifework.
So what do I write? I write about nature. The nature of our world, the nature of imaginary worlds, the nature of people and races known and unknown.
As my current novel unfolds, I discover my own nature as well. I find it difficult to create conflict because I strive to avoid it at all costs in the real world. Learning about using moral messages and value clashes to create conflict between characters has been an interesting journey. I have also discovered just how great this novel can be. I see its scale becoming grand. I do not mean in word count, but in content. I want to create something amazing. I want to create a world that seems real, that makes readers want to go there, to fight alongside the characters, to protect the ones who cannot fight, and to experience their victories.
I no longer want to just tell a story, I want to create a new reality.
Why do you do what you do?
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