Friday, April 8, 2016

Why I Write

Why does someone like me spend so much time, effort and money on writing stories? What prompts me to go to such lengths to improve? This is something I've pondered on a lot lately and something I feel is worth sharing.

I have two primary reasons for writing, and both are major. And yet one is almost an amalgamation of reasons all squooshed together into a hybrid reason. Perhaps it will make sense to those of you with an artistic heart.

Let's get the first reason out of the way up front. Simply, I need a way to make money. I know that's not what budding artists are supposed to say, but I don't like being a starving artist. I'd much rather be an artist with a full pantry. Heaven knows I've spent plenty of time already with an empty one. I also feel that having a full stomach is far more conductive to making one's muse speak. I've spent my entire working career doing bottom dollar jobs in the food business and I don't plan on making a living in a cubicle later on in life. But I also desperately wish to have a family who can depend on me and who I can support and give them all that they truly deserve. So it is my vocation to be a writer in hopes of eventually making enough money to not only survive off of, but thrive.

The second reason is far more complex, so perhaps a history lesson of my life is in order so that some of you may understand where I'm coming from. As a child in school I was always the smallest kid in class who didn't speak much and always kept to himself. You know the kid I'm talking about. Some of you probably were that kid. I always hated school. I was always a target for torment and had a myriad of social problems. But I always had a gateway from the torments of reality. By opening up a book I could transport myself as if by magic into another realm entirely.

I could be on a ship roaring through the cold depths of space as laser weapons hissed and crackled in firefights with aliens. I could be transported to an expedition penetrating into the misty depths of the Congo. I could be in a mystery revolving around otherworldly powers. In short, through a book, I could be anywhere and anything. As I got older and had a bit more money in my pocket I was able to expand my literary horizons and delve into subjects that had before been beyond my reach. I will be forever grateful to my aunt who handed me a pile of hand-me-down books which housed a handful of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan novels. That was my entrance into pulp, and as a brooding teen that was my getaway drug.

School also helped me overdevelop my imagination. It was either find a way to detach myself from reality in hard core daydreaming or slip into a coma from the mind numbing boredom that I was relentlessly bombarded with in the classroom. This would later come in handy at my first job where I have to perform a repetitive and boring task for hours on end without pause. I eventually got it down to muscle memory and I don't really even have to pay attention to it. So while everyone else is wondering how I'm able to stand the boredom I have wars with railguns and ospreys going on in my head. Thank you imagination!

As I grew older and learned more I became more and more fascinated with how a writer from decades or even centuries ago could still have such a vivid influence on someone like me, or many someones like me. Tarzan isn't exactly a small deal. There were of course tons of other writers that I loved, but ERB was one of the ones that really stuck with me. It still amazes me that someone who wrote stories in such a dramatically different environment from the one today could still be so relevant. Slowly the idea began to form that if I wanted to leave my footprint on society and the world at large, why not become a writer myself? I also noticed with increasing annoyance that there was a depressing lack of books or movies catering to my particular tastes. Eventually I decided that if nobody else was going to be writing stories with cowboys and dinosaurs then darnit I'd do it myself!

In school I'd always exhibited above average writing skills. I had quite a bit of raw talent, and crappy fanfictions I did got a good amount of attention. And in case you're wondering, no, you will never see said fictions. They were awful then and they are far worse now. So if you want to see an example of my writing attempts as an early teen the answer is no. Heck no. And if by some strange quirk of fate you happen to have a copy of any of my crappy writing and want to blackmail me, please meet me at the top of a large flight of stairs and then we can talk.

Back to the history thing, I'd often contemplated being a writer, but I just regarded it as a hypothetical option, the way one does with the idea of being a movie star or astronaut. I didn't think I'd actually be one. Getting into the publishing arena is a tough gig and I was just a punk just out of high school with nothing to my name. I had other career plans and was working hard at trying to get those in order. I was actually planning on becoming a gunsmith and firearm engineer. But something happened and that kind of fell out. I was prompted there again by leaving some sort of mark on society. I wanted to make guns that could please people and bring joy just like the ones I had owned and shot with my dad and friends.

The idea came again of writing. It was a method by which I could bring happiness and a sense of adventure to other people the way Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Crichton, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Steve Perry and dozens of other authors had brought countless hours of joy to me. It was a very pleasing thought, the idea that long after I passed away other teenage boys lusting for grand adventure could find joy in things I wrote about decades before.

If this sounds like an ego stroke I apologize. It isn't meant to be. Rather just a realization of how actions can affect people so far in the future.

In the end I really just want to make people happy. I want to inspire them. I want to whisk people off to other worlds to escape the unbearable tedium of regular life. I want to create entire worlds where people feel like they can walk around and interact with the people and things there. At heart I'm still a kid with an imagination that is working major overtime and wanting to indulge in the flights of fancy that we all had as youngsters.

And what better way to make people happy and to leave a lasting impression on people than to become an author? That is why I write.