Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Why I Write.

Maybe the title to this post should be "Why Do I Write?" Har.

On some days, I can't anwer this question. I'm struggling to answer it today--rejection blues calling again. Call this a little reflection on my personal evolution as a writer.

When I started writing in earnest, I didn't intend to go the genre route. I've always enjoyed speculative fiction--some of my favorite books include classics of science fiction and fantasy: The Stars My Destination, Sirrius, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Frankenstein, The Hobbit, The Haunting of Hill House, I Am Legend--I just didn't intend to write it.

To go back: late July 2007--I'm in a state of funk after the end of Harry Potter. Go ahead and laugh. I read Deadly Hallows twice in three days; it left a big, nasty hole in my chest.

I'd kicked around writing for years--but never really embraced it. So there I was, big hole in my chest, looking for something to fill it. 2006/07 had been a rough year at our house, a tale for another time, and I drew strength from surviving those personal trials. I can do this writing thing, I told myself. I knocked out The Last Days of the Springdale Saints in two months, revised a half dozen times, and started sending out the queries. I was sure to be famous, soon.

Reality intervened. Rejection x rejection x rejection. My interpretation: I just need some publication credits, that's all, then THEY will pay attention to me. I started knocking out a few short stories. After another four months, some of those stories saw print. Now I'll be famous...

But that isn't really what I wanted or what I'd come to enjoy. I fell in love with telling stories, especially spec fic. Speculative fiction allows truth to be told in rich, engaging ways--sometimes it can be more human than literary fiction. I always knew this truth as a reader and have only begun to understand as a writer.

On the good days, the days I really enjoy writing, I do it because telling the truth feels so good. Intoxicating, really. I feel more honest when molding a piece of fiction then any other thing I do.

It isn't about me, and it never has been--even if it took me a while to realize that simple truth.

9 comments:

Barry Napier said...

Awesome post, my friend. And it eerily mirrors why I started writing and the path I am taking to become a full time writer (that doesn't have to beg for underpaid web copy and editing jobs).

Catherine J Gardner said...

I've just realised, I don't know why I write. Scratches head and goes away to think about it.

All I can say is it definitely had nothing to do with holes or Harry.

Aaron Polson said...

Barry - just a little soul-baring.

Cate - I'm a little embarassed to admit my Potter addiction. Is there a support group?

Jamie Eyberg said...

Actually, although I do have a degree in creative writing, I put it on the backburner for years and started writing creatively again while reading the last Potter book, althought it was to kill time while the kids slept and tell my wife I was doing something productive.

I must say, however, that I enjoyed the series as well. (smiles slightly and hopes no one notices.)

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - maybe we can start that support group. Harry Potter did a lot for the world of books.

Carrie Harris said...

Wow. Terrific post there. My stock answer to "why do you write?" has always been "because I have no choice." But that's really a copout answer. I think you're on to something: how the world seems to make sense in a way that it doesn't when my fingers aren't on the keyboard.

Hmmm...

Aaron Polson said...

Carrie - the world does start to make sense, but why is mine so weird?

Bobbie Metevier said...

Speaking of writing. I just realized we're in the very same issue of Reflection's Edge, Aaron!

Aaron Polson said...

That was one of my first sales! I thought your name rang a bell...sometimes the bells just keep ringing...