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.
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:
- It’s for me
- It’s for pleasure
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what, or why, you plan to write in 2017.
Happiest everything, always,