On this, the third annual National Day on Writing, writers have been asked why we do so. I’ll add my bit to Twitter and Facebook, but I feel that a more comprehensive post about it is in order, and an opportunity to give an update on the manuscript for “Payroll.”
I’m not entirely sure why I write. It’s simply a deep-down need, without an identifiable base. It’s always been there, ever since I was in grade school. I wrote stories back then. I’m not sure what became of them since they were written out by hand and not on a computer, but I have some memories of them. No, I don’t care to discuss them right now, and they’re probably better left buried.
A friend and teacher once referred to the writing bug as a disease, which is probably quite accurate. Writing is a mental disease, where if you don’t have the writing compulsion, you aren’t going to truly understand it. As such, it makes it extremely difficult to put into words. How’s that for irony. A disease that compels a person to create and mix words also prevents a person from describing the disease using said form.
It’s also has to do with a love affair with the printed word. I read a lot as well as write. Given the number of book reviews I’ve posted, that should be fairly obvious. I simply can’t imagine what my life would be like without print, other than devoid and empty. It gives me meaning. It sees me through darker times. It conveys strong ideas, stirs emotions, and takes us to other times and places, real and imaginary, and even beyond imagination. It inspires people to new heights, pushes cultural changes, and sparks revolutions.
Yes, this is the glamorized ideal of the writer and what we all wish and imagine our work will accomplish. At the same time, most of us also realize how rare it is to accomplish such feats. And yet we still try. Our mental illness compels us to do so. The great writers are and have always been my heroes, the ones whose work changed society. However unlikely it is that I can achieve equal status, I still have the disease, the compulsion to keep trying, to inspire others, make them think, and even laugh in the process.
At the same time, it’s just plain fun. I get to make little word games to play with people’s minds. Anything I write is limited only by my imagination. If I want there to be a horse with 12 heads, there will be a horse with 12 heads. Because I say so. So, yes, there’s probably a little bit of arrogance, if not megalomania, involved with the compulsion.
We’ll see how well it ultimately comes out once I finish my manuscript. At the same time, I’ve gotten a little distracted on that front (how’s that for a segue). I’ve begun to reconsider my decision to not participate in NaNoWriMo this year. I had a dream about a week or week and a half ago that was really vivid, and I felt like it would make a good screenplay. Now that I’ve tried to lay it out a little bit, I’m starting to feel like it would make a better novella, and then adapt it to a screenplay. And it would be the perfect thing to write for NaNoWriMo. Ack! Sometimes I hate my muse. I’ve only got ten days left to decide whether to allow myself to get distracted during November and delay completion of the manuscript for “Payroll” to my birthday. It is a self-imposed deadline, after all, but I’m not sure that I want to break with my own goals. Where does it stop, then? Decisions, decisions!
I’m also wondering who came up with October 20 for the National Day on Writing. November 1 would be so much better, as it would coincide with the start of NaNoWriMo. We need to coordinate, people (not to mention coordinate people).