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JV
Posted on Friday, February 11, 2005 - 05:36 pm:   

I used to think I wrote because I had to. Now, I'm not so sure:

http://vanderworld.blogspot.com/2005/02/i-write-because-i-have-toi-write.html

I think I want to come up with another answer.

What's your answer?

JeffV
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 02:39 am:   

I write because I'm an arrogant opinionated bastard and if I didn't, the words would keep tumbling in my head.
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Lucius
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 03:12 am:   

The question seems something of a straw man -- I mean it's a question that is asked by fans, by interviewers, not a question one asks oneself, unless one is unhealthily self-absorbed. When asked this question I usually answer with some version of "I write because I have to" simply because it's the easiest way to get rid of the question--it appears to satisfy the audience, I'll get lots of knowing nods in response. The actual deep psychological answer is probably too complex and too trivial to waste time considering, and the actual superficial reason is I write because I have to pay the bills and writing's a more Lucius-friendly way of dealing with that than holding down a job. A more pertinent question is what am I doing up at this hour and pissing away time like this? :-)
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JV
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 04:45 am:   

LOL!

That's a much better question, Lucius. I ask it of myself all the time.

JeffV
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jeff ford
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 05:28 am:   

I shit because I have to.
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gary gibson
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 09:31 am:   

i write because i'd rather not have a proper job.
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des
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 09:45 am:   

I write because simply and seriously I don't have to.
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al duncan
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 11:08 am:   

I write because I have two.

I'm not saying what I have two of, but I reckon if I write enough I might make it to three one day.
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Jay Caselberg
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 12:27 pm:   

Al, you are going to turn into a J.P. Donleavy character if you keep that up.
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Robert Devereux
Posted on Saturday, February 12, 2005 - 06:54 pm:   

I right because I have to. Usually it's when my boat capsizes, but not always.
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gary gibson
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 07:47 am:   

The ‘meaning’ of creating a piece of work is important here. Marx suggested that much of the depression and misery of 19th Century workhouses and factories came from workers having little connection with the things they were involved in making: that being reduced to cogs in a machine could not produce a fraction of the simple and satisfying act of creation implicit in the trade crafts and practical arts of previous generations, where a carpenter as much as an artist might gain an overwhelming sense of pleasure from creating something, since that ‘created thing’ on some level is an expression of that individual’s personality.

We’re all more than machines for eating, sleeping, and simply living: any artistic endeavour is an expression of something that makes us somehow distinctly human. Not to write, or paint, or whatever, would therefore be odd, since we all seek things in our lives which give us satisfaction while not necessarily leading to profitability in the usual sense – most of us here who write and get paid, after all, don’t expect to ever get rich, or even close to it. So – to write is to be human. How about that?
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gary gibson
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 08:18 am:   

actually, jeffv, i just took a flick through your blog, and it did occur to me that the reason the question itself gets asked is because it gives some people - mostly outside of the genre, i suspect - the opportunity to talk total bollocks. Resulting in all that sage head-nodding Lucius mentioned.

"I write because I have to pay the bills and writing's a more Lucius-friendly way of dealing with that than holding down a job."

Precisely. If you know me well enough, you'd never set me on a real job. Bad news. In my case, I might adjust it slightly, and suggest: "I write because I'm otherwise probably unemployable and nothing up to and including having my feet attacked by a psycho with a cheese grater will induce me to wear a tie." How about *that*?
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AliceB
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 02:14 pm:   

I write because I's half of two. So is you. And he or she. However we and they write because they are two or more.
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Alex
Posted on Sunday, February 13, 2005 - 03:34 pm:   

I think I smell an anthology project...
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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 05:51 am:   

Actual serious answers:

1. I write to understand things. By writing about something (an image, an idea, a bit of history, a flight of fancy) until it makes sense, I gradually come to understand it myself.

2. I write because whenever I go too many days without writing about something important to me (a story or an idea I'm struggling with), I get depressed. It's the same reason I do Aikido: I get depressed if I go too many days without training. I both write and train because I get depressed if I'm not engaging my mind and my body with something challenging.

Deep philosophical answer with overtones of arrogance:

I write because great writing has affected me deeply and changed my life. I want to do that to other people.

Smart-ass version of the above:

I write because I'm smarter than other people and they ought to pay attention to what I say.

Answer involving Art:

I write because I want to be an Artist and I can't paint and never had enough faith in my musical ability to be a singer/songwriter. I'd make movies, but that requires too many other people and way too many compromises in my Artistic Vision.

Wistful answers:

1. I write because I want public adulation.

2. I write because someday I hope to make a living just writing what I want to write and that would be a whole lot more fun than any other job I've ever had.

Honest answer:

I write because I love to see my work in print, even if it's just on someone else's discussion board, which is why I've just wasted 30 minutes that should have been spent doing something else writing this up.

Nancy
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Liz
Posted on Monday, February 14, 2005 - 06:39 am:   

I like it.
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ClaireWeaver
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 08:53 am:   

Writing keeps me out of trouble: I'd be out starting wars, searching for dead gods and changing realities through drug abuse for real if I couldn't write about it instead. I think my friends would find that intolerable and would probably have me committed.
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al duncan
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:26 am:   

"...starting wars, searching for dead gods and changing realities through drug abuse..."

But don't you find yourself doing that for research anyway?
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ClaireWeaver
Posted on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:34 am:   

Yeah, but ssshhh, don't tell anyone!!!
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Richard Parks
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 02:08 pm:   

Writing gives me an excuse to indulge my serial obsessions. Now when I plunge into a subject that interests me for months on end I can always claim that it's for "Research." If I'm not writing, then there goes my excuse and I'm simply a compulsive nutter.

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Minsoo Kang
Posted on Wednesday, February 16, 2005 - 08:51 pm:   

All of you might be interested in the works of a colleague of mine here at the University of Missouri (St. Louis) named Joseph Carroll. He's an expert on Darwin and the influence of his works on 19th century literature, and he's written several highly controversial works in which he argues that literary activity has an evolutionary function and that it fulfills some essential need in our specie's neurological development. Fascinating stuff. So maybe we write because we have to evolve.
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Dunmore
Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 01:38 pm:   

Well, if you look at it that way, everything has an evolutionary function. And, oh yes, everything plays an essential part in our neurological development, so perhaps this thread is playing a crucial part in our neurological development RIGHT NOW. How profound (and how neurologically developmental) of Darwin to have pointed this out.

Well, my nturolgiugal delpemvmment seems to be going along just fine.
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Liz
Posted on Friday, February 18, 2005 - 11:32 am:   

>   By al duncan on Tuesday, February 15, 2005 - 09:26 am:

>"...starting wars, searching for dead gods and changing realities through drug abuse..."

>But don't you find yourself doing that for research anyway?

No, that's just how she spends her weekends.
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ET
Posted on Saturday, February 19, 2005 - 04:36 am:   

Just came upon this (doing 'last day' from the F&SF board). Nice blog entry. And I liked Nancy's post.

I write because I enjoy it. I can explain some of the reasons I enjoy it, but it's still the basic answer. I don't write because I have to, or to keep from being depressed, or because I want to make a living off it (which seems like a horrifying prospect to me). I do want other people to enjoy my stories, I sometimes have something to say (even though it's often a silly thing to say, and even if most people won't get it), and I like getting an occasional pat on the back (which is worth the rejection along the way). That's why I submit.

Maybe because of this I'll never be a successful writer. I'm just not driven enough. I don't *have* to write.

> Too bad most readers don't read because they have to...

Actually, it's too bad for the opposite reason. I'm sure a lot of people read because they have to. Their teachers make them do so. Somewhere along the way some of them decide that if they're forced to do it, then it must not be much fun.

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