Why We Write

All right. I imagine everyone who does anything on the internet gets exposed to plenty of those motivational graphics that probably make up about 55% of traffic on the world wide web, right up there with cat pictures. Mostly I ignore them – I know that most are posted out of either apathy or good intentions – some of them make me grit my teeth a bit. Of late, I keep seeing one that argues that everything that happens in life will either make you better or make you bitter (barf) and that the difference is Up to You.

If you really believe that, I envy you the peaceful and problem-free life you have enjoyed to this point.

Moving on, rant narrowly averted.

Also of late, I have seen a particular writer-directed one that asks ‘If no-one knows your book exists, what was the point of writing it?’ The first time I saw it, it raised the ol’ hackles a little bit and I wasn’t entirely sure why.

I do understand the point the person who made the graphic was (probably) trying to make – that writing a book is, in a lot of ways, just the first step of making it a commercial success and that learning to advertise and promote it is an important skill set for writers in the Current Environment. It’s a skill set that I’m gradually learning, and I get the idea behind the advice.

Still bugs me.

It took a while, but I eventually figured out why. I don’t like the part where if the book isn’t a commercial success, there was no point in writing it. Obviously (I think) I would love it if everyone on the planet read my stories and it would be great if I was able to get a significant income from my writing. I imagine most writers feel the same.

On the other hand, that’s not why I write, and I suspect that’s true for many other writers as well. I write because I have stories I want to tell, and I have fun making them up, putting them together, and writing them down. I love inventing people who have never existed and seeing what they do. I really dig the challenge of having a scene in my imagination and trying to convey that experience to other people.

I love working with words. I like trying to find just the right way to put something or to find a new way to get an image or an idea across. Words have been my toys for about as long as I can remember, so writing time is time to play.

As I guess I’ve alluded to a few times on this blog, writing is also a form of self-care – it relaxes me and the process gives me pleasure. Taking a deep dive into my imagination is a great way to give myself a timeout from whatever Real World problems are plaguing me, and having banged together a few hundred words can provide a feeling of having Done A Thing, on top of it all.

So, yes – of course I would love it if my writing became a huge commercial success, both because that would mean lots of people had read it, but also because, yes, money is a nice thing to have. However, even if you told me that would never, ever happen, I would still keep writing. I do want people to read my writing, of course I do, but that isn’t the reason why I did it. The point of writing, for me, is to write, not to have x number of people read it. Readers are amazing, and I am grateful to everyone who has ever thought it was worth their time to read something I wrote. But, if you pump me full of truth serum (or, apparently, get me to write a blog) I write for me. Because I love it, and because on some level I kind of need to.

I promise I won’t write any motivational posters though.

I admit I sometimes post cat pictures.

They’re mostly my cats though.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week.


Registration has opened for Can*Con 2016, the SFF convention here in Ottawa. This year it runs from Sept. 9th to the 11th, and although the programming is still being put together, what we already know is awesome: The Hugo Award-winning editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction, Sheila Williams, will be a Guest of Honour. There are other very cool plans in the works that I can’t wait to tell you about (but have to) although I guess I can say that I’ll be part of some of the panel discussions again, if hearing me yammer on is the sort of thing you think you might like to do.

You can get the full details and get registered here.

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3 thoughts on “Why We Write

  1. Matt says:

    I write because I’m a huge narcissist ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I agree. I write because I have so much to say and so few people want to spend a lifetime listening to me.

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