Writing can be quite a chore. You have to do it regularly to improve your skills. Often you have to write, re-write and then re-write another 3 or 4 times until you like what you’ve got. The words don’t always come easy so you play tug of war with your brain to get your story done. You pass on plans with friends, stay up late, skip watching your TV shows, just so you can write. I’ve become a temporary hermit to write, especially when Nanowrimo comes around.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re not a writer, you may be asking why do I do it. My reasoning is two fold.
Firstly, it’s definitely a bit of selfishness on my part. I get this story flying around in my head and I want to get it out. If I don’t, it just bounces around in there and parts of it comes up at inopportune times. It’s not a good thing if you space out during real life conversations because your main character pops up in a shower scene in your head.
I have to admit, when I first write, I am *never* thinking of the reader. There’s no “Hmm I wonder if the reader is going to like this character. I wonder if they’ll be annoyed if I kill Billy off. I wonder if they think this guy is hot.” It really is all about me: what I find exciting, what I find sexy or funny or touching. I’m not thinking about whether the book will sell. I’m not thinking about if it’s an overplayed theme. I just want to get it out of my head and have it make sense.
The second part comes after the rough draft is complete. That’s when the pleasing aspect of writing kicks in. I want people to like my stories. I want them to be enjoyable and talked about among friends. I want them to be an escape.
Growing up I always had a couple of close friends, but I was very shy. I didn’t do well in new situations or with groups of people I didn’t know/weren’t close to. I wasn’t really the type to run out and make new friends or participate in sports. Books were my escape. They took me to magical places, the characters became my friends and they didn’t judge or make fun. I made up numerous situations in my head where the characters and I would hang out and solve mysteries (Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys combo books were like Crack to me) or battle the bad guys (I’m looking at you Dragonlance Chronicles. Raistlin, I would have made you like me!). Looking back I’m kind of surprised I never tried my hand at writing fan fiction, but I think they were too much my own personal little fantasies. Even now, at 33 years old, I admit to, occasionally, going to bed with scenes of me helping Katniss and Peeta get out of the arena or consoling Simon when it’s obvious Clary doesn’t feel the same towards him, in my head. They’re my friends dammit! I can help them in my dreams, right? Those kinds of thoughts would probably dwindle if I had a boyfriend, but that’s a totally different tangent we won’t get into right now.
I want people who read my stories to have those same experiences. To be able to use them as a means of temporary escape. To be friends with the characters and actually CARE about what happens to them.
I had a beta reader recently exclaim that she “loved loved loved” my story. To hear that it was so enjoyable for her makes all those late nights, skipped plans and re-writes worth it. I don’t need my stuff to be best sellers or turned into movies. I just need them to be liked, enjoyed and shared. That’s why I write. One part selfishness. One part pleasing.