Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why Writers Write - an end of the year message (Podcast #10)


Or listen at: https://soundcloud.com/hopeclark/why-writers-write-podcast-10 

After watching my daily dose of Godvine and Upworthy, uplifting quick videos of the good things about mankind, I suddenly felt the need to be expressive about the meaning of life . . . from the eyes of a writer. Especially at this time of year when we're all reflective and contemplative about our purpose on this earth.

Voracious readers appreciate writers. Occasionally a writer publishes such a phenomenal tome that most people appreciate him, or at least his work. But I dare say that most readers do not understand writers.

I have friends who love to read, and thank goodness they read my books, but they marvel at my putting that many words together in the right order to tell a good story.

"How do you do it?"
"I can't imagine thinking that hard."
"The effort boggles my mind."
"Where do you get your ideas?"

I have no idea how I do it. I just do, because I want to. I love the satisfaction of thinking hard.  The effort boggles my mind, too. And I have no idea where my ideas come from.

I tell them it is NOT easy, and they nod, saying they completely understand, bless their hearts. But they don't.

Because understanding why a writer writes is to get inside his head and set up camp, feed off his mind, drink from his heart, and thrive off his energy. Nobody can do that.

I'm not here to bash people for being ignorant of the writer's plight. The world is full of plights. Every human being has plights, some of which I'll never grasp. Writing is one of mine, and frankly, it helps me weather the other plights on my list. If I didn't write, I would not cope as well with family, politics, crime, religion, friendship, or health. There's something about slowing down to dissect words on a page that makes me also slow down and dissect life.

Writing gives me permission to appreciate myself.To understand myself.

Writing gives me the means to become part of humanity, in a manner that nourishes me best.

Writing is about connecting with the human condition, so that I better appreciate people.

My favorite writing is mystery. Others write scifi, romance, plays, poetry, each and every one of them stories about the human condition (even if they are aliens). Writers want to be an intrinsic part of life, but they feel best empowered to step into the fray through written words. They communicate more deeply by analyzing which word comes first, then second, then last.

Words are more than connecting the stereotypical puzzle pieces.

Words are cells. Each one, no matter how tiny, is key in creating the whole. They are alive, and if one is not useful, it weakens the others.Writers are healers.

Words are stars. If one goes missing from the bright night sky, we may not immediately notice. But if a corner of the Big Dipper disappears, we lose a constellation. Writers are stargazers. Writers are universe builders.

Words are pixels. Omitting a pixel from a portrait may not matter. Omit several, or insert the wrong ones, and you have mars on a masterpiece. Writers are artists. Writers are painters of life.

Words are leaves. Well tended flora soothes the eye. It's lush, green, the epitome of health and a connection with God and Mother Nature. A leaf falls, or never grows at all. That's fine. But a bare limb jutting from amidst a luxurious cloud of green begs for pruning. Writers are gardeners. Writers are nurturers.

Words are children. Their manners, their appearance, their attitude, their happiness are contingent upon their upbringing and surroundings. Parents fight to offer their offspring all the options to feed their growth for a more successful life. Writers are parents. Writers are caregivers.

Words are more important to writers than readers can imagine. Millions of Scrabble pieces for the choosing, to make the right word, to earn the most points, to best use the opportunity at our grasp. To turn those plain letters into beautiful phrases.

I like to think writers take the time to think before they leap, in order to get the leap right. I know how long and hard I struggle over a sentence. Then my critique groups tell me I don't quite get it right, so I struggle again. But it's not the hours invested that matter. It's the perfect click of the best words to make a sentence appear simple and easy that makes all the difference. That gives me satisfaction.

Writing takes time. In this world of lightning fast communication, texting, no caps and no punctuation on messages abbreviated without vowels, the human condition never appears. The abbreviation of communication abbreviates the message and abbreviates the depth of the story. Quick, easy and brief removes humanity from the equation.

 What about short stories, flash fiction, poetry? They are short. They are brief. Oh my, if only I could write those. The intensity of short storytelling is even more  profound, with writers painstakingly selecting each word for its true worth.  Short isn't simpler. Tight isn't easier. It's only more precise, like driving a car down an alley instead of on the Interstate in the middle of the night with no traffic. You still get there, just with more attention to the method.

I'm wandering all over the place, using the hell out of metaphors, still searching for the best compilation of words to tell you that words are my life. I still don't feel I'm showing you what drives me as a writer. What drives most writers.

Why do I write?

1) Writing makes me whole.
2) I communicate better with ink than my voice (I wrote this before vocalizing it).
3) Writing gets all the confusion, the characters, the scenes, and the dialogue out of my head.
4) Good writing makes me feel smart. Bad writing makes me feel like an idiot.

Writing puts me on the map of creation, if that makes sense. It allows me to dip into my soul and extract a piece of it for posterity unlike my thoughts or my speech. My thoughts are mine, confined in my head. My speech is fleeting, however profound it may be. But my written word has the potential to live on, and like my children, leave a piece of my life behind when I move on to the next world.

Writing is not what I do for a dollar. It isn't what I do for fame. It's what makes me feel worthy as a human being as I try to share with the world how I think I fit in.



I still haven’t given the craft its due purpose. But throughout the world, millions of people are happy that writers do what they do, for whatever reasons they do it. And writers are glad to write.


3 comments:

quietspirit said...

Thank you for your thoughts about writing.

Sioux said...

Yes, it IS a way for us to live on. In my case, probably not "forever" but for a while.

Hope--I enjoyed your story in the CS anthology of "The Dating Game." It was great to read about the "love story" that was going on while your real-life mystery was happening.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks for reading, Quiet.

And Sioux, thanks for reading my CS story about meeting my husband. Yep, my real life mystery turned into Lowcountry Bribe, and we've never looked back or regretted it a bit. At the time, however, it was scary!