It would be easy to say the I write because “I have to” or “I can’t stop.” But those are exactly that: The easy answers. I think there must be something else. Or maybe not. Perhaps by the end of this little essay, I will have a more complete answer.
First, I write because it is something I am good at. Not that I think I am the best ever writer anywhere, anytime. Far from it. There are many who are much better than I am. There are those whose work I read and think: Wow! I wish I could do that. But I know I can put together coherent sentences, and I think I tell a pretty decent story while I am doing it. So, y’know, do the stuff you are good at, and all that.
Second, writing is my creative outlet. I can’t draw my way out of paper bag. People run when I play the piano. I can carry a tune, but I am by no means a talented singer. I think the urge to be creative in some way is an instinctive part of being human. Writing helps me use that creativity in a constructive way. Looking at a blank page (or screen) and filling it with words, sentences, paragraphs, and stories that came from me. These are the things I am bringing to life. Creating.
Third, I enjoy doing it. I like sitting down and playing with an idea. Making up characters and giving them stuff to do, places to go, lives to live. Word-painting a world, whether it is a fully conceived one of my own making, or my vision of someplace real. I like figuring out what comes next, how to get from here to there, what sort of trouble I can get my characters into and out of. It’s fun. I even (sort of) like the editing and revising process. Taking the basic idea and story, and making it better and better. Getting it closer to my vision of what it could be. Connecting the dots in better and clearer ways. All of that gives me good feelings, and there isn’t anything wrong with that.
Fourth, I do it for myself. I write because I want to, not because I have to. There are things I write that are fully and completely for me *cough* fanfic *cough*. No one sees those stories. Well, maybe a few people see a few of them. But they make me feel good. And some of those “me only” are original stories, as well. Just fun stuff that gives me a giggle when I write it, even if it’s silly and stupid and no one would ever want to look at the thing.
So, there it is. The four big reasons why I write: I can do it pretty well, it lets me create something that wasn’t here before, I like it, and it is something I do for me. You will notice that nowhere in there did I mention money. Because that’s not really a driving force in the why. Yes, I like being able to sell some of my stories. I like seeing that I’ve earned some pittance for them. But you know what makes me even happier? When someone says “Hey! I liked that thing you wrote,” whether it’s in an email, an online message, or a review. That really makes me feel good, and just a bit special. Because when it comes right down to it, that is why I write. I write because I want to give someone, somewhere just a bit of enjoyment and escape. I write because everyone needs a bit of pleasure now and then, and good stories are pleasurable, even if they are not necessarily always happy and full of rainbows. I write because you are out there, reading and enjoying. I write because it is who I am and how I interact with the world. I write because.