This post by Craig Snider
So, you’re a writer, huh? Of course you are. Aren’t we all? Get in line, bub. What makes your writing so special anyway? How are you any different than the millions of other writers swimming around on Amazon, or drifting about at conventions trying to peddle their latest thriller about a president, double-agent spy for the military? I’ll tell you what: nothing. At least, not in the sense that would be logical within the context of this discussion.
What am I trying to say? That writing has no purpose because there is no such thing as an original story? Yeah, I suppose so. I mean, it is true. No matter how complex or layered you make your story, it will inevitably be based in some part on archetypal stories that have come before. We stand on the shoulders of the great men who have come before. Did I come up with that? Does it matter?
There are thousands, perhaps millions of writers on this planet, right now, typing away as I write this, hoping against all odds they will one day write something people will pay to read, and see their name next to the word “author.” Then what? Will that mean you have succeeded? That all your hopes and dreams have come true? Yes, it does. Congratulations, Snow White, you’re living in a fairy tale.
Statistically speaking, most of us won’t be able to make a living writing stories and weaving fictions. But, we read posts with titles like “Why we write” and feel rejuvenated with our divine purpose to dish out another alternate history book where George Washington falls in love with a time-traveling Jacky Kennedy, or another paranormal fantasy with the ghost of Sasquatch being hunted by a bipolar werewolf with separation anxiety, or maybe, god forbid, a literary fiction gambit where we try desperately to make that awkward period of our youth try to have some meaning beyond strange body hair, dressing room bullying, and the inevitability of wet dreams.
So, fine. I’ll admit it. I like the idea of being a writer more than actually being one. Because, boy howdy, writing is hard. It requires more effort than I have to give, and quite frankly, there are just too many episodes of Doctor Who to get through on Netflix for me to sit down and contemplate fictional lives. And yet…
I keep doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any misconceptions that I’ll become famous one day (and that acceptance speech for the Nobel on my computer was totally written as a lark), or that I’ll even be able to write full time as a career (unless it involves trying to come up with endless ways to write the same advertising copy again and again). So, why continue?
More to the point, why do so many feel compelled to write those self-involved, pretentious posts about “Why we write” to begin with? What do they ever say that really illuminates the ignorant public and gives them insight into the unfathomable minds of writers like us? Nothing. Just some platitudes about, “I can’t NOT write.” Yes you can. Just stop. And, take your meds, ammiright??
No, I guess that isn’t true. Here’s the truth. We write because we can. That’s it really, probably, the whole truth of it. If we couldn’t write, then we wouldn’t, though that hasn’t stopped some. Lookin’ at you Meyers and James.
So, let’s all just stop writing those insipid posts that are just a self-absorbed pep-rally for other wannabe writers that believe there is some secret to it other than putting pen or pencil to paper, or fingers to keys, and just doing it. Let’s quit all the hemming and hawing about the writer’s struggle. The struggle isn’t real. We made it up, just like everything else we write. Neil Gaiman said all writers are liars. Ain’t that the truth, honey.
Because, the day I write a “Why we write” post is the day you know it has all come to a screeching halt, the brakes are out, the engine’s on fire, and I’ve more than likely waited too close to my deadline and had nothing else prepared.