Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why write?

I've been writing fairly steadily for nearly forty years now. What keeps me going? I used to think it was the desire for fame and fortune, but there's been none of that in all that time, although a minor ego boost from the odd short story publication has been very welcome. So why am I still doing it? I had to seriously consider this - along with all the other things we seriously consider when we realise we are now (fairly) well past the 50 mark.

I've been a reader longer than I've been a writer, devouring sci-fi and adventure stories in book, TV, film and game form for so long now and it's something I never tire off. Equally I really love the act of writing, although every morning when I open up the laptop (or take out my pen) there's always that anxiousness at getting the first word down (will I be able to?) as well as the inherent laziness I think afflicts quite a few writers (do I have to?). Well, yes, I do have to since I make myself every day, and so far I've been 'able' to as well: I haven't written myself into a corner or contracted terminal writer's block.

So when I say I love the act of writing, it's once I get over that ambivalent 10 or 20 seconds. But the thing I love about it is the way the blank page (or screen) allows me to interface with my sub-conscious. I'm a strong believer in the unconscious mind as the tireless problem solver and game player. Problem solver because so often I've wondered about a particular plot issue and been surprised and pleased when - days later over a cup of tea or when I'm waking up - an idea or phrase will surface that solves what I was worried about and (even better) sometimes opens up a whole new line of enquiry. Game player because I'm also often surprised by the little plot details that come out the end of my fingers as I write or type that add colour and texture to my world and my story. In short my sub-conscious entertains me by helping me to construct a story that I think (and hopefully others will think) seems to be shaping up to be a satisfying read. Despite the ambivalence, it's fun and rewarding. I guess that's why I keep at it.

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