This was the first week of no classes at uni and it was a lonely week with no writing banter. Writing is a solitary experience so I’ve been using Twitter to connect with other writers. It’s like a virtual water cooler or my trips to the photocopier in my last job where you’d hear all the office gossip.
In case you’re not on Twitter, a hash tag is simply a way for folk to search for tweets that have a common topic and to begin a conversation. A popular hash tag used by writers is #amwriting and it’s a good way to learn from others and share the ups and downs of writing. But I wonder how many writers using the #amwriting hash tag actually stop and ask themselves, WHY am I writing?
“Why do you write?” was the first question my mentor asked us when we met him last week to discuss our dissertation ideas. Myself and two others from my MLItt class are very lucky to be given the chance to be mentored by the acclaimed writer and filmmaker, Ewan Morrison.
He has just launched a new book, ‘Tales from the Mall’ that you really should get your mitts on as it’s been described by Catherine O’Flynn, Costa prize winning author, as “A wonderful and important book”.
Ewan asked us to quickly make up a list of the positive and negative reasons for writing and to be honest! The two lists made interesting and sometimes cringe worthy reading. As they say on the X Factor, in no particular order, here is the group’s results.
Money Social/political commentary
Revenge Experiment with language
The list was not extensive but it was enough to get us discussing the good and bad reasons for writing and to analyse the ones which related most to our own ambitions as writers. How many writers would be willing to admit that they believe that they might make a lot of money writing books, that they will be famous and will be respected and remembered? But even if you’re prepared to admit that fame and fortune were your original writing goals, for the vast majority of writers, that will not be the case and this means they need to work out the other reasons why they write.
For me, it is the love of words and a creative outlet that I can’t imagine ever giving up. I’ve always been an avid reader and I now have the egotistical desire to be a creator rather than just a consumer. I love writing or there would be no point in locking myself away for hours on end. And I definitely wouldn’t have given up a permanent job to do the MLitt course if I didn’t feel passionately about writing. Writing is part of who I am.
All I need to do now is get my head around why I need to write this particular story. After endless revisions, I need to take a step back and figure out what exactly I’m trying to say with my WIP and then figure out the best way to achieve it. The world does not need my book but I need to write it. I write because I have to, why do you write?