People write for different reasons. For income, attention, love, passion, or as a simple hobby. Like anything, we come to this path in different ways. Here’s mine.
Most stories start at the beginning, so I will too. My mother read to me at night, something that isn’t too uncommon for the world, but normalcy doesn’t negate an experience’s ability to be wondrous. My favorite story was one of a mouse family who adopted an orphaned kitten and raised it as their own. The events after escape me, but hey, I was only three years old. Time passed on as it tends to do and eventually Goosebumps introduced me to independent reading. The rest, as they say, is history. Reading became kind of my thing. People knew me for always having a book in my hand. My mother often tells people that I would read on the soccer field–actually sit down in the middle of a game and pull out a book. I don’t/refuse to remember such a thing, but she tells the story just the same.
It wasn’t long before I put down the bookmark and picked up a pen. When I was in the 3rd grade, I wrote a ‘book’ called The Butterfly Chronicles. I’m not ashamed to say the name because, frankly, I can’t really be that much ashamed at anything I did when I was 9. It’s that golden period where you kind of know what you’re doing, but no one is really going to hold anything against you in the long run.
I continued writing on and off as I got older. At one point (sixth grade? maybe I should start keeping a journal…) I wrote a series of stories about reincarnation. The main character found himself in prehistoric times, gets eaten by dinosaurs, and then is lucky enough to be reincarnated as prehistoric creatures. Step up from The Butterfly Chronicles, eh? I think so, too.
By high school I didn’t need to take one of those profession tests to tell me I wanted to be a writer. I had a love for creativity to which even video games contributed. Books, movies, games, and art all added to the awe and wonder of imagination’s spawnings, further edging me to create epics of my own. Whether by word, visual, or controller pads, I wanted to give the gift of immersion, both to myself and to others.
Do we really know why we like the things we like? If you ask a five year old why he likes basketball over football, he probably won’t give you an extensive answer. Ask Michael Jordan the same question and he could write you a book. The same reasons were always there, just we don’t really know what those reasons are until we ask ourselves ‘why?’ Then we can pull from our life experiences, personalities, quirks, etc and piece them together to make sense. To make a reason.
I’ve explored this question in relation to my own desire to write. I still don’t think I have it all, but this is what I’ve come up with: I have a peculiar desire to experience everything the world has to offer (well, not everything everything, but you get the point). I want to save a life on an operating table, rush into a burning building while fighting off the insanity of my surroundings, perform in front of a sold-out concert-hall, explore the galaxy, go undercover as a drug kingpin’s right-hand man, and even run a farm. I basically want a life chock full of all the world’s worthwhile experiences.
Crazy? Those are small fries compared to the experiences I really dream about. The things that have been the centerpiece of my imagination since first exposed to the pages of a book. That world without rules, where magic is a normality and things go bump in the night, where aliens aren’t just speculation, animals talk, adventures are epic and heroes legendary. Unless all the rules of the universe prove to be a mere curtain hiding the truth like the Great Wizard of Oz (which I’m still hoping could prove to be the case one day), I know that my fantasies will stay just that: fantasies. So what to do? What could I possibly do to satisfy some of these desires? I think you’ve guessed the answer by now.
I write to somehow encompass all things both possible and impossible into this one life I have. I can create whole worlds that obey my rules, forge unique characters from the fire between neurons, experience wonders in my own text that I could never know in real life. I’ve found that writing, like reading, is a wonderfully escapist activity. The beauty of it is that I run the show and there’s a certain joy in having someone else immerse themselves in your own imagination. Does it feel a little powerful? Maybe it does. Maybe I like it.
I think it is a shame how little variety we can accomplish in our short existence, but thankfully we are still able to find joy and ultimate satisfaction in one path, as long as that path is true to us. This is mine.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I write. At least, I think….
But what about you?