Why do we who write, write?

Why do we who write, write?

Especially we who write fiction, why do we do it?

(I’m now considering myself a ‘fiction writer’? Based on one novel? Well, this is my blog so I guess I’m free to say whatever I want. More or less.)

Enough of that digression. Why do we write these made-up stories?

There are some usual explanations:

  • We have no choice.
  • Therapy.
  • To keep from going crazy.
  • Because we are crazy.
  • For the money (a clinical verification of one’s lost grasp on reality).
  • It’s fun.
  • Curiosity – to see what these characters in our heads are going to do if we let them out.
  • To shine a light on a historical period or our family heritage or some unacknowledged issue.

Just having sat through numerous sessions at the annual International Festival of Authors here in Toronto, I’ve heard variations on all of these reasons from authors with a lot more fiction writing under their belts than I have.

Which got me thinking once again about why I wrote my novel Searching for Gilead. I provide one explanation in the preface “…my attempt to give witness to a series of issues with which I am grappling.”

There is some truth to that, more than a little, actually.

But I don’t think it’s the whole story. Another part of the story, I think, is that I wrote it because I couldn’t or wouldn’t or felt I shouldn’t give voice to certain spirits lurking in the dark corners of my soul. So the solution was to let them out through the mouths and actions of made-up characters.

That probably sounds terribly precious and pretentious.

But as I said, this is my blog so I can get away with it.

* * *

Information on Searching for Gilead is available on my website at http://DavidGHallman.com

Searching for Gilead can be ordered through your local bookstore or on-line retailers such as http://amazon.com, http://barnesandnoble.com, http://chapters.indigog.ca, http://amazon.ca, http://amazon.co.uk

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Why do we who write, write?

  1. Oh yes, David, I can identify with several of the entries on your list of ‘reasons for writing’. Crazy? check. Family heritage/unacknowledged issues? check. Add to these the desire to make things happen that I’d never be able to effect in real life — but I suppose that falls under the entry for ‘fun’? And so it goes.

  2. Scott McMullon

    I want to write a book too, but I am not sure I have a story in me that is strong enough to force its way out of my skull to find its way to my hands to either be written or typed… Still every day I see a hundred stories born and live and die in my head.In my honest opinion David, this is why you have the right to call yourself an author, it is not enough to have a story, or a view, or an idea. It has to be the strength of will to write it out, and bear your soul to all who read it. Its an intimate thing, to open yourself up to the world. I only hope, that one day, I will have what you have, and I will be able to write something for the world!

  3. Pete Davis

    I wholeheartedly agree with Scott McMullen, I too would love to write, but lack the confidence and skill to try. Keep doing it David and all the other writers I enjoy. One day I may give it a try.

  4. I write for a lot of the reasons listed. I suppose it’s because I’m crazy; do sane people have characters living in their heads? It’s fun to write but it’s hard work. I also stupidly ask myself "what if" questions and then have to let my characters out, otherwise they won’t shut up. I also write because I selfishly want others to love history as much as I do.

  5. Pete Davis

    <html><head></head><body bgcolor="#FFFFFF"><div>Thank you David<br><br>Pete Davis<div>From iPad2</div></div><div><br></div></body></html>

  6. Clare Adams

    all of the above plus self-exorcism

  7. Sarah G

    Actually, delivering your message through characters because you feel you can’t or shouldn’t express them yourself is a perfectly good reason to write fiction. I like that, it makes your writing sound interesting, and it’s a lot less pretentious-sounding than ‘the character wanted to be given a voice’ (something I read a lot).:)

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