Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why do you write?

I'm not the kind of guy who pulls up a chair and tells a story.

Seriously. That's so not me.

No, I'm the kind of guy who sits quietly off to the side, watching and listening, until I'm certain that I have something witty, something intelligent to say. Then I step up and say it. And then, I'll do my damnedest to become the center of attention. Ahem. Because I'm sort of like that.

But I've never considered myself a storyteller, not in the classic sense. And I find that rather odd, since I've ended up as a (so far unpublished) writer of fiction. A storyteller, so to speak.

Don't get me wrong. I have a million stories jostling around inside of me, just dying to get out. Some are pretty good, some are pretty wild and some are, well, some are probably best left where they are, if you catch my drift.

So, I am a storyteller. But I'm an enigma -- a storyteller who doesn't really like to tell stories, because that involves personal interaction. And that, as we all know, kinda sucks. I mean, sometimes. You know?

So do I write because I'm a creative person? Hmmm. Maybe. Although I'm not artistic in the sense that I would need to paint or sculpt or anything if I couldn't write. I'm not the sensitive, frustrated artiste. That's just not me.

But for some reason, something inside of me burns with a desire to write my stories and have people read them. And enjoy them. And get them. I can't think of anything more satisfying than having someone love something I've written. I don't know why, but that's been true in my life since I became a newspaper writer at the tender age of 22.

Writing is such a personal thing for me. When I put my writing out there for the world to see, I feel as though I'm strolling naked through the mall. I mean, I'm totally cool unless someone laughs, you know? Then I want to crawl away somewhere and just die.

So why do you write? Are you a natural born storyteller? An artist who needs to unload your vision, or die? Or is it something deeper, something more primal?

I suspect my reason is closer to the latter. I would wager that my burning desire to foist my words, my very own version of a story, on the world is a way to demand respect. To demand that I be taken seriously. To know that I count, that my thoughts have meaning.

Or not. Who knows? All I know is, I have to write. Period. I seem to have no choice in the matter. I could no more not write than I could not breathe.

So I'm interested in hearing how you came to be a writer. And more importantly, why do you write?

AND SPEAKING OF WRITING: I knocked off slightly more than a thousand words today. The new political novel is still gushing from my brain, not unlike that unfortunate oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This baby is very intricately plotted, so much so that I worry about it becoming a formulaic plot-driven potboiler. Consequently, I've worked very hard to get the characters to simply pop from the page. In fact, I've already filled two legal pads with notes and charts and graphs and doodles -- all kinds of weird things. I think I'm becoming totally obsessed with this book.

And I don't even have a title for it yet.


  1. I write because I have to.

    I come from a long line of storytellers. We sit around and tell stories, and my brother and I became good story-bouncers early in life. We ping-pong stories every time we get together.

    You should've heard me roast him at his wedding.

    I encourage my kids to tell stories, too. "Tell us a story, Daddy," they said last week.

    "It's a story about Chihuahuas in a hot air balloon trying to get to the moon. Then what happens?"

    My daughter said, "The balloon crashes in the ocean!"

    "Then what happens?"

    My son said, "They swim to an island of giant cats."

    And so on. It's something I got from my family and I'll pass it on to my kids.

    I don't consider myself a writer at all, nor an author. I'm a storyteller.

    There's a difference.

    - Eric

  2. Man, you make a good point. You see, I write because I love too. It's just this thing that I can't stop. It's like I have to do. I love to do it. It makes me feels free.

    But, I have a hard time sharing it with others. That makes me feel vulnerable. Someone could tell me I suck.

    However, I LOVE to tell stories! And heck, I know I'm good at that. We...ummm...like to fabricate original stories in our family so we come up with some pretty crazy tales. Then again, we are kind of a wacky family, so it's pure fiction laced with humor.

    Now, isn't that weird? I can tell a story to a stranger, but I wouldn't want to share one I've written down. Strange indeed. Then again, I never said I was normal. ;-)


  3. I'm no storyteller; not at all. I take too long to think up a good one. I'm very proud of myself when I can just rip one out on the spot and entertain someone.

    So I'm definitely a writer. But, unlike most writers I can walk away for long periods. I love it when people read what I wrote and find it entertaining. I'm show offy that way. But, I don't seem to have that driving urge to find an agent either. Want to, yes, but do or die; nope.

    Hmm, you bring up a lot of soul searching questions with this post Terry. I'll have to give this some deep thought.


  4. I'm like you; I don't like to interact so much face to face or be the center of attention, but I have loads of stories to tell.

  5. writing is so very personal for me too. And I too crave to be the center of attention at times, while other times I'd rather be invisible!

    "something inside of me burns with a desire to write my stories and have people read them. And enjoy them. And get them."

    And GET them is the biggest part for me!

  6. I love to tell stories and to write them. I write because it's the only thing in life that people have told me I'm good at and it's the one thing I truly get satisfaction from. I have a passion for it and I feel sorry when I meet people who haven't found something in life to feel passionate about enough that they throw everything else to the side to do. When I have a project I'm working on, it's the only thing that matters in my life. It's nice to have something to really focus on. We're not here long and writing is a good way to leave your mark on this world. If you're a writer and you have people reading your work, be it five people or thousands, it's a true blessing and I feel lucky I've had an audience for what I've done so far.

  7. I love to tell stories. It's funnier that way. I'm pretty animated and dramatic. Trying to figure out how to get that on paper is the challenging part.

    I have always written in journals, I would write silly little stories when I was a kid. My daughter cracks up when she reads some of them. Priceless.

    I loved the way the pen felt gliding across a stack of paper. That was my most favorite part. Sometimes I would have no idea what to write and nothing on my mind, but the urge to write something was overwhelming. It was like my hand had a mind of it's own. Strange. I have no idea what that's all about.

  8. Eric: Your family sounds like it would be a blast! I'm envious of your oral storytelling abilities. I sometimes can do it, but for some reason I'd rather write it down. That probably says more about me than the process itself.

    Justine: Oh yeah! There's nothing like opening up my writing to someone else to get all those vulnerable vibes tingling. I hate it, and yet I also love it. Go figure.

    Donna: I also love to show off with my writing, but as you know it doesn't come without a risk. Of being rejected. Or being laughed at. Or worse, being ignored. I wish I cared *less* about getting an agent and being published. It would make my life much less stressful. :)

    Ted: I hear you, brother. I hear you.

    Meleah: Yes! *Getting* my work is more important to me than having someone admire (or loathe) my writing skills. To me, it's a referendum on my intelligence, wit and creativity. No pressure there, right? ;)

    Marty: I have ALWAYS admired your talent and your courage. I remember writing about you when you left town to pursue your dreams in NYC. I was envious then, and I'm envious now. Luckily, you're such a great guy! And now we're Internet buddies. Funny how lifes comes full circle sometimes, isn't it?

    Gina: Yay! You're back. I hope things went even better than you had hoped. You and I share many personality traits (no surprise there) and I, too, can be animated and (melo)dramatic. I also love to make people laugh (I was voted class clown my senior year in high school). I really hope you guys can go to Cincinnati. get the feeling we'd all end up friends IRL. :)