I know a couple people on the lookout for writing advice, and in lieu of coming up with anything new and grasping for profound language, I’m just going to tell them (and remind myself) of why I write. This was originally posted two years ago. Enjoy!
If you ask a writer for advice, quite a few of them will simply tell you to read. I’m reading the second novel in
I write fiction. It’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was young.
As a writer, reading also is a means for us to recharge. After A Clash of Kings I plan on reading The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress for the first time. Not only am I a fan of Heinlein, he’s the reason I started writing fiction in the first place and decided it was what would drive me in life.
I’ve written on Heinlein several times, and even reviewed the one film adaptation of Starship Troopers. But the book that affected me the most deeply was The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. I had a copy of my fathers’ that I read a few times, and I wish I knew where it was. That’s a book that needs to be read again.
For the most part, it’s part hard science-fiction, part rumination on the nature of myth. As the story goes on, the sci-fi bits fade into the background as the ruminations grow. The concept of every myth being true, the erasure of characters and the part those characters play even when they’re aware of being part of a myth grabbed hold of my twelve-year-old brain and didn’t let go. But it was this, at the very end, that completely overwhelmed me.
“Who was writing our story? Was he going to let us live? Anyone who would kill a baby kitten is cruel, mean cruel. Whoever you are, I hate you. I despise you!”
Now, a lot of the novel is admittedly forgettable. I want to read it again to see if that’s because I was young and had even less retention than I do now, or if there’s just a lot of filler in there. But the concept, the idea that worlds created by the writer of fiction are, in some way shape or form, real – that stuck with me. I put the book down and knew, on a deep level, I wanted to write stories like that for the rest of my life.
I’ve lost sight of that goal, for varying reasons to varying degrees, multiple times over the last two decades. It’s been there, in the back of my mind, sometimes growling at my ignoring it and sometimes screaming at me to get my shit together. I’m at a point where I can’t not have a day job, but I’ve wasted enough time not writing. I need to work a steady job to keep myself and my family fed, housed and clothed, but I also need to keep writing. Hence the Free Fiction, the blogging and the stubborn refusal to return to a car-based commute. I can’t write and drive at the same time.
I write to create these new worlds and populate them with characters that other people can understand, relate to and maybe even sympathize with. I write to not necessarily change lives but to provide a means of escape. I write because, in the end, it makes me come alive like nothing else ever has. When I’m creating stories, I’m in a mental place that can be difficult for me to reach under other circumstances. It’s a place where my energy is being focused in a way that both invigorates and calms me. And it’s possible that the results of this creativity will be something other people can enjoy, something that helps them forget about their troubles and lay their burdens down, if just for a little while.
I know I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before, but it bears repeating, if only as a reminder to myself.