Why Write? – It’s Stupid!

It’s a tough question and if you are not feeling on top of your game, its a hand grenade.  Still, its the beginning of the year and in the spirit of continuing on with some kind of rationale, I have been attempting to answer this question for myself, but the more I have tried to answer it the more I found reasons not to do it.

Reasons Not to

Let’s face it!  It’s not an essential industry – well not like brain or heart surgery – not really.

It’s not like farming.  Those indefatigable people who toil day in and day out to bring food to the table.  It’s not that.

It isn’t as important as police work.  I mean really!  It can’t solve a crime or protect an individual from harm.

Of course, I’m setting you up.  Fiction and non-fiction both can rewire the brain and soothe the heart.  It does provide sustenance by placing before us ideas we may never accidentally encounter throughout the course of our lives and yes, it can protect us by helping us to see other points of views and giving us options our necessarily limited life spans and experience cannot.  It can do all these things, but still, why do it?

All I Ever Hope To

My search for a reason was doing very badly until I came across the following quote:

All I hope to say in books, all I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.  E.B. White.

It’s not exactly right for me, but its bloody good.  It makes no justifications.  It doesn’t attempt to explain it by comparing it to something else because it is like nothing else.  For me, it is impossible to not make note of things, people, ideas in my life.  I am not one to walk by.  I simply can’t.  As a journalist, I found the world of ideas incredible.  The things people did were astounding.  I couldn’t shrug and move on.  There was nothing better than a long talk (interview) with some bloke who spent his days looking at firing neurones in the brain.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chat with an expert in personal organisation.  Why I found it impossible to clean up my desk or why at 3pm, I couldn’t think.  The ideas were addictive.  They have led me to set out on my own personal exploration of philosophy.  I’ve delved into behavioural economics because at least these people recognise that we are all crazy!  And I’ve reviewed books on the side because I don’t just want to know.  I like to share.

It’s All About the Homo Sapiens

However, its only in the last couple of years my focus has swerved.  While I still love ideas and will continue to pursue them, I am becoming more and more fascinated with people.  They were always embedded in the ideas I have studied.  I know that, but the ideas were the shiny things.  Now, I can’t seem to take my eye off the characters.  I just love them and so my attention has been drawn toward fiction.  I could say like E.B. White – “All I ever hope to say is that I love people.”  I love the flaws, the misunderstandings, the tenacity and it is such a relief to know now why I do what I do.  I write to understand.  I always have.  First it was ideas and now its us.  Of course, it is stupid, in that there is no end to it.  There is not a point of complete understanding…..ever!  Still, there doesn’t have to be.

What if writing can help people to draw from and revel in our differences, bring us together and combine our efforts to make meaningful and lasting change or to pool together what we know as individuals and collectives and bring this knowledge to bear on the challenges facing  homo sapiens!  What if?

Voila!

AND SO THERE YOU HAVE IT!  I am reconciled at last.  Somehow throughout the ‘why’ process I have stumbled upon it.  The writing, both fiction and non, has come out of the same place, my inability to walk by.  It’s rather grandiose, I grant you that.  It may even be slightly ridiculous too, but I don’t know that I care too much about that.  It’s not like I’m going to stop doing it.  It’s just nice to know why I do.

 

2 comments

Michael Pollock

As a song writer I very much enjoy that the two words I need always seem to rhyme. Though as I practice the song I relise that there was a reason that I wrote it at this time in my life. As much as I try to write about somebody else it always ends up being the song that I needed to hear. I guess what I’m trying to say is as much as I try to do it for others, I will always end up writing for my self. Thank you for this thought provoking piece:)

Gabrielle Blondell

My pleasure!