It’s at times like these that I ask myself why I write. I think it’s a good habit, every now and then, to ask yourself why you’re doing something. For instance, there are times when you discover yourself driving through heinous road works for the fifth time in a day, and you might ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” This might lead to the discovery of a short cut. Of course, by this time it is a little late, because you are already hemmed in by cars about a mile in every direction, but at least you know for next time. There are other times you may ask why you are doing something. You might have decided to go a camp where you know the majority of people are lunatics. And as you consider the strange behaviour of the people involved, you might ask yourself: “Why am I doing this?” And you may very well save your wits – and a can of deodorant and several articles of clothing, into the bargain. Occasionally, when I am teaching, and a child spits on my arm or begins to howl very loudly, I ask myself: “Why am I doing this?” This is the only time when asking “why am I doing this?” is not a good idea, because with teaching, this question will probably only depress one. Focus on the good stuff.
Writers are essentially crazy people. Writing pays nothing or pittance. It takes long hours, and the book that you finally finish you will probably rewrite five times over after that. Then you will spend years sending it out to literary agents and publishers. When at last someone buys the rights for your book off you, you will feel like taking them out for dinner every day for the rest of their lives. You will love them, and if they're international, they will be glad they are an ocean away from your violent affection. Then you will spend another few years waiting for you book to come out. You will edit it to death and be crazily excited to receive the first copy of it. There's always the chance you won't like the cover, but if you do, then you still have your two star reviews to look forward to.
So why the heck do writers write?
I have a number of personal reasons that I like to focus on. I think writing is the best job in the world.
Writing helps me think. Thinking is something that does not come naturally to me (honesty is important in these serious matters). It’s always a good exercise to have to think before you say something.
Writing also helps me process stuff that happens to me. I’m the type of person that, when something bad happens to me, I think: “Oh, that was bad.” And then I put it to the back of my mind, and it comes back in my nightmares. When I’m writing, often this sort of stuff will come out. It’s scary, but helpful. The best work - the very best - comes from the heart. An honest writer is a true artist.
When I finish the work, I prove to myself - and other people - that I can finish something. I have been disciplined and worked hard at something - and that trait is not natural to humanity. Dedication to one's art must be practised.
In short, I have discovered that writing helps me become a better person. I hope that people who have to put up with my fiendish typing have discovered this also. Writing helps me understand the world I am in. It helps me communicate with people. It teaches me to be honest and true, and inspires me to be good. When God made man, He made man in His own image - and part of that, of course, was giving man the ability to use language: to create with words, albeit on a much smaller scale than our Creator did. When we write, we imitate our God, and we aspire to the highest qualities of our being.
I guess it's not so bad after all.