Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why I Write (as part of NYWM)

So considering National Young Writers' Month is in full swing, I figured I should answer this thought-provoking, honesty-inducing, pride-deflating question: why do I write?

I never really started writing properly, and by 'properly' I mean in the sense of consciously formulating my thoughts creatively (or not) on a piece of paper or computer, whether for fictional or personal purposes, until I was about 19. I was in my second year of an Arts degree at Adelaide Uni and had just picked up English. What came with studying English, aside from the mammoth reading list of 'classics' I received on a semesterly basis, was an urge to read regularly for pleasure (yes, I know, I was a late bloomer, missing out on reading the canon of children/YA authors: Dahl, Marsden, et al). This began with David Gemmell and Raymond E. Feist, two of my favourite fantasy authors to this day.

What I'm trying to get at with this mini rant/tangent is that I wanted to write because I was reading so much. But that doesn't answer the question why do I write? After much thought on exactly why I write I can come up with three main reasons why I put pen to paper often:

  1. Mental Release. I find it therapeutic to write down what is in my head in a little book and   store it away where only I can find it, unless someone else finds it and reads it. I'm not the type of person to have a whole bunch of close friends so writing helps me mentally.
  2. The Challenge. Sometimes I just have this little kernel of brilliance (or what I perceive as brilliance) buried inside my head and the challenge to myself is to put it down in a coherent manner, whether it be a story, an idea, or an opinion. Of course most of the time, once it's out of my head, it's not so great, so I put it in a file and let it rest for a while.
  3. Showing Off. Yes, I'll admit it. I try to show off through writing. I try to emulate authors who use extravagant prose to wow and woo everyone and anyone that reads them. Big mistake, dunderhead! (I come off as pretentious even to myself sometimes). There's a time and place for verbiage and all-the-time is not it! I always hear the mantra that short, concise sentences are best, but Stanley Fish's book told me otherwise just last month! Ah, who to believe!
  4. ......OK, so there's one other reason I write. I really, really, really want to be a writer, which, in a way, I already am because I've written this and you (whoever you may be) are reading it. Hurrah! But seriously, I want to make a living off writing someday, or at least gain some kind of monetary reward for my literary endeavours.
So there, now ya'll know why I write. And you know that I write. But is that enough? Is the way I write enough to make any type of headway in the world of publications and being published? Has my tertiary education (a B.A. in Classics and an Honours English degree) prepared me to face the rigors of intern applications, self-editing, deadlines, rejection letters without feedback, rejection letters with feedback, proposals, and whatever else comes with trying to be a writer? Should I go back to uni and complete a Professional Writing and Editing diploma? Spending another year of my youth studying, adding another $13K to my HECS, being financially worse off than the past five years, all in the hope that it will better prepare me for a life of trying to be a writer? Another parchment on the wall that an editor will hopefully give a fuck about. Perhaps I should do the above degree but, at the moment, I can't. (And, stuff it, I am a writer. I'm going to be published by Blogspot in about 8 minutes. But enough ranting, Horne. Don't be bitter).

Ahem, so I will keep my composure; I will go to my writing group and pick the brains of those who have done the aforementioned diploma, and I will go to writing festivals and pluck up the courage to introduce myself to writers and editors (even to Angela Meyer if I'm sitting along side her again at Dirty Words next year); I will keep on applying for internships; I will keep reading what others are writing and won't get disheartened when I think it's astronomically better than anything I could write; I will email my work to my friends and family, who will probably tell me they love it and that will boost my confidence enough to keep trying; and, most importantly, I'll keep on writing because it's what I do, what I want to do, what I need to do, and what I love to do.

Thanks for reading why these words are here.


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