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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Guest Post - Why I Write


While I prepare to take off to the big city at the end of the month to begin my university education, I thought I would take the opportunity to host one of my favourite bloggers, JeffO, for a guest-post. Well, here you all go! 

First off, thank you, Bonnee, for hosting me this week. I've never been to Australia before. It's nice to get a little bit of summer in what is currently the armpit of winter here in the northeastern US.

So, I'm here because Bonnee asked a question on her blog, and after getting the right answer I was obnoxious and asked, "What do I win?" The joke's on me, because I get to write a post about why I write, and that's a heck of a lot tougher than shipping off the first ten pages of a manuscript for critique, or getting a cute little blog button or something like that. Be careful what you wish for, right? The joke may really be on Bonnee, though, because I never know what I'm going to write until I start, and now that I have, I'm not entirely sure I can even answer the question properly. In the interest of international relations, I'd better do my best to answer the question, or Bonnee may drop a funnel-web spider in my luggage or something.

Why do I write? I could give some glib answer of the sort you see on writing forums all the time: "The voices tell me so." Or the ever-popular "If I don't, my head will explode," but that would be a lie. My brain is not so overstufffed with brilliance or stories or characters that the only way to let stuff out is to write. I don't have constant conversations with characters, though I do frequently have narratives running in my head.

I'm also not one of those people who writes to work shit out (can I say that here? Bonnee: Yes, yes you can.). A good friend in my writer's group wears her heart on her sleeve; you can always tell what's on her mind based on her week-to-week writing. Me, I'm not so transparent. Real-life events work into my stories, but they're touchstones and starting points, places to depart from. They color my characters a bit, but my characters aren't used to relive my life, or to live out my dreams.

As I mentioned in a post I did for a bloghop some time ago, I was once an avid fiction writer. In sixth grade, I was going to be a novelist, period. That lasted for about a year, then went dormant for many, many years, I don't know why. I also don't know what woke it up, but about four years ago, it did, especially after my father passed away. Growing up, my life was pretty normal. I wasn't abused physically, sexually, or mentally. I got along with my brother and sister about as well as brothers and sisters get along, which is to say, alternating between horrible and great. I'm not writing to exorcise demons or deal with childhood trauma, because there aren't any. I do believe, however, there is a connection between my father's death and the re-emergence of my writing. During the three months or so he was seriously ill, and in the five or six months after his death, I spent so much time with other people — doctors and nurses, my brother and sister, aunts and uncles and cousins — that, when it was finally over, I needed 'headspace'. I sort of retreated into myself a bit, and came back up with fiction-writer me, raring to go. I can't say for sure why, but I'm glad I reconnected.

And that brings me to another part of it. Fiction writing is just plain fun, dammit. I like creating characters and manipulating words into (hopefully) coherent sentences, paragraphs, and stories. I like discovering a story where there was none, finding meaning in. I like the thrill of writing something good, that feeling of "Damn, I nailed it!" that comes when everything goes right, and I like crafting, too, where you take that still raw sort of story and shape it into something even better. I even like writing when the words tangle on the way out and don't make any sense at all, when you spend half your time trying to decipher what you meant. It's hard, but still fun.

Humans need for creativity. We need some kind of artistic outlet in our lives. Art enriches us, and not just when we receive it, but when we create it, too. It gives us a way to express ourselves; a way to interpret the world outside AND the world inside. Sometimes it helps us deal with our shit, and sometimes it allows us to express things that can't be expressed in other ways. For me, writing is the way to do this, because I'm clumsy and self-conscious as a dancer, have a terrible singing voice, and can't play music to save my life.

Hey, it looks like I found a way to answer the question after all. Hopefully, I didn't ramble too much and bore you all to death. Thanks for hosting me, Bonnee, time to go back stateside. Let me just check my luggage before I go…looks good. Before I go, I guess I should ask the question of all you out there: Why do YOU write?

Thanks for joining us JeffO! Don't forget to head over to his blog, because he posts some pretty great stuff over there all the time. Alright, you heard the man: Why do YOU write? 

 - Bonnee. 

21 comments:

  1. I love your reasons, JeffO. Yes, humans do need creativity in some form or another. I've just always had stories running in my life--as far back as I can remember (which is a long time). :)

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    1. Thanks, Donna. Something I didn't say, I've always been kind of a daydreamer, so I guess I've always had those stories running in the background, too. It's just I feel more of a desire to get them out now than I did for a long time.

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  2. I agree with all of this! Creativity is a part o f the soul that needs attention, for everyone. We need to express ourselves, however that may be. There are ways of doing it in everything! Mine is my writing, for me it is the easiest way to create and express.

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    1. Thanks, Michael. I think we need to nurture this part of ourselves, and I cringe when schools cut budgets for the arts.

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    2. I cringe that that too! It's so disappointing...

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    3. Its terrible. I read an article once on how important art is along side maths. Many studentswho struggle with numbers are able to break through difficult barriers by apporaching maths visually. Art teaches students how to construct and visually and put two and two together. The process of putting lines together to make a shape and colours together to make more colours.

      That was just one example but hit that nail on the head about the importance of the arts

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    4. And even beyond that is the simple benefit of a well-rounded education.

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  3. Great post. I totally agree about everyone needing some form of creative outlet. Nice to meet you.

    Hi, Bonnee :)

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    1. Thank you, Carol, nice to meet you, too!

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  4. Have had so many creative 'careers', but underlying all of them has been the necessity to communicate, especially when teaching, and now having to work from home because of my husband's illness, enjoying writing my novels, a thing I should have done years ago. So pleased you are having fun with this.

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    1. Thank you, Carole, it is a blast. Communication in some form or another underlies all forms of the creative arts, when you think about it. I'm sorry for your husband's illness.

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  5. I like your observation about Humans need for creativity, and I see that the four previous comments share your observation. Writing is just one outlet for creativity. Even knitting and baking are creative in their own ways. Best wishes to have your novels published.

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    1. Thank you, Giora. And you are right, creativity comes in many forms beyond what we think of as the traditional arts.

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  6. "We need some kind of artistic outlet in our lives. Art enriches us, and not just when we receive it, but when we create it, too. It gives us a way to express ourselves; a way to interpret the world outside AND the world inside."

    Yep, this is me too. I'm very much in it for the craft of writing. It feels like a creative endeavor when I write, as if I'm trying to mold something for others to look at so they can see what I see.

    Great post. :)

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  7. Creative expression is a big part of why I write, too.

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  8. I write NOW because I love it and I have something to say.. I wrote before because the muse wouldn't let it go and in the end, I did need to exorcise some demons. I guess that means I write for different reasons depending on the time in my life. I had a great childhood and adolescence, but bad things happen regardless, and that's fodder for the muse, I suppose. Whatever drives you, Jeff, I'm just glad you write, and I hope someday, everyone else gets to read the brilliance you have allowed me to witness.

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    1. Thanks, Nancy, and I'm glad you were gripped by the muse. I don't think there's a wrong reason for writing, unless maybe it's done with malice in mind. Need for creative outlet, silence the voices, work out some personal shit, make a million bucks--they're all valid reasons for writing.

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  9. What an awesome post. I love how you touched on the reasons that many other people give as well. I write to make sense of my world and because, like you said, it's just plain fun!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. I suppose I did wander a bit from why *I* write, but as you know, I do tend to do that a bit.

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