Why do you write?

MichelleOn Writing, Uncategorized2 Comments

We watched “Passengers” last night. The basic premise: a man (Chris Pratt) wakes up 90 years too soon from a 120-year nap while on an interstellar “vacation” to colonize a new planet. He falls in love with a sleeping woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and, in his loneliness, must decide if he should wake her or not. Doing so is essentially murder. It’s suicide if he doesn’t.

I found it to be formulaic, predictable—and utterly gripping. How could a plot so contrived keep me so hopelessly glued to the screen?

So I had to ask myself: what really makes a story sell?

Musing in and out of this question led me nowhere except—and pardon me for not leading you here in a logical way, but it didn’t happen as such—to a new question, one that is perhaps more important to me, personally, in this moment:

WHY DO WE WRITE?

The answer for me is N/A: not applicable.

I DON’T WRITE.

I haven’t for a long time now. Since publishing my first novel and launching my career as an editor, I’ve mostly consumed. His manuscript. Her manuscript. Yours. Throwing myself into dozens of manuscripts every year. Except my own.

What if I did write? What value would it bring back to my life?

My first and only book started as a slow sloughing of skin until I had escaped myself completely. It was an emptying and a disassembling of my soul and my life. It was gut-wrenching. And it may or may not have actually been a good book.

Why would I go through that again?

I don’t write because I don’t feel that tug to do so. I am perfectly content with reading, editing, passing the hours with Jeremy and my son and my dog. Catching up with friends on Facebook. Going for walks. To the movies. The mall. How can anyone write when there’s so much to do?

Tug or no tug, a writer writes. I could write…

  • To better connect with the authors I work with
  • To diversify/advance my career
  • As a means of self-discovery
  • For personal fulfillment
  • For pleasure (or for pain)
  • To pass the time more productively
  • To bond with Jeremy, who lives and breathes the craft even when he isn’t actively working

The list of reasons to write is long.

The list of reasons not to is longer.

As an all-or-nothing gal, the idea of starting it up again slowly, of moderation, is ungraspable. Whether a writer writes for herself or writes to sell, the rule is the same: a writer writes. If you want to be a writer, you must write.

Jeremy’s theory is that writing is like a fire that life relentlessly tries to extinguish. If he’s right, and writing is a flame that can truly burn out—or be put out—what if that happens to me? Will I miss it forever? Will I lose a part of me? Will I grieve?

Although I’m not sure a tug is what I’m feeling, there is something. A knock. A slow-simmering heat. It’s either the muse or too much caffeine.

I digress.

It’s late in the year, 2016. That means I’m making plans, and I plan to write in 2017.

And I plan to make sure:

  1. It’s for me
  2. It’s for pleasure
  3. It’s when I want, what I want, how I want

Who knows, maybe I’ll be a writer (again) someday.

Why do YOU write? Leave me a comment below or email michelle@mjbookeditor.com and tell me what, or why, you plan to write in 2017.

Happiest everything, always,

MJ

2 Comments on “Why do you write?”

  1. When I chose the cover art for my first novel, TEARS OF BLOOD I was turned away from a major advertising agency. They told me it was religious content and declined to promote my book, suggesting I remove the cross and resubmit. I pulled a few punches writing that book. There are scenes I left out, wondering what people might think. I should have printed that response out and staked it to the damn wall like Stephen King. My advise, throw another log on the fire and let the critics and naysayers burn. You have a knack for writing and I can’t wait to read more.

    For me, writing is where I find solace.

  2. I enjoy writing fiction, but my vocation, my true calling, is writing software. After a severe case of burnout, I tried once to leave the profession. A year later, I missed it. I had to go back. The luckiest of us have parts of our jobs that we do for free and parts we get paid for. I write code for free, and I get paid to fix other people’s.

    If writing is your fire, it is the very Flame Imperishable, the only phenomenon that runs retrograde to the universe’s inevitable heat-death. It is the force that, through the green fuse, drives the flower. If any human soul remains, it will continue to burn long after the sun has gone cold and black.

    Or not. Everyone’s fire is different. Anything will burn.

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