All writers have their own motivation for doing what they do. This is mine.
I have mentioned the influence my grandpa has had on my storytelling. I grew up watching him spin tales for as long as I can remember. But it wasn’t only his fascinating stories that grabbed my attention; I also noticed how everyone was enraptured when he spoke. Call me vain, but I wanted that kind of attention. I wanted people to think of me as a storyteller. I wanted people to tell my stories to their friends when I wasn’t around.
But I was seven years old. What kind of stories did I have to tell? Grandpa would talk about his cow, Short Tailed Dolly, or about having coffee with some of the old men in town. I didn’t have those kinds of experiences. I went to school, did my homework and chores, and went to bed by half past eight. Nothing story-worthy came from my days.
So I started to write. The first story I wrote was about rescuing a princess from deranged monkeys. I got captured and was thrown in the dungeon. But that wasn’t the end of our hero! I cut through the bars across the window with a butter knife and freed all the other prisoners the same way. We stuffed gunny sacs with straw so the monkeys wouldn’t notice we had left, and replaced the bars by gluing them with Elmer’s Glue-All. I specifically remember the Elmer’s.
That first story awoke a part of me that has never left. I didn’t write much throughout elementary and high school, but I always thought about it. I turned my skills to letter writing and poetry during my early years in college, and took a writing course for short stories.
It wasn’t until I started traveling the world that I realized that my stories needed a home. It took me three years to start blogging, and another six months before I tried my hand at novels.
Today I don’t feel like I’ve completed a day unless I’ve written. Sometimes it’s just a few ideas that I want to work into future books, other times it’s adding several pages to my current novel. Either way, I find words pouring out of my mind faster than I can keep track of them. Which is rather unfortunate when I have a stellar idea and no notepad.
My motivation is multifaceted. I tell stories because I find it very fun, but also because when I tell a story I feel my grandpa close by. I like to think that he’s listening in and laughing just as hard as the people around me. I imagine him following up with one of his own hair-brained tales.
I am the fourth child of six. I didn’t have to fight for attention growing up, but I didn’t always get to have my say. I would get flustered in an argument and forget all the great comebacks I had stored up, and by the time I remembered them the fight was over. Writing helped me get my thoughts down. I didn’t have to worry about being interrupted. I didn’t have someone talking back to me so I would lose my train of thought. It was just me and my pen.
As an extrovert, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and shout out one-liners during a group conversation. I enjoy that, but I miss out on deep conversation; intellectual, emotional or otherwise. Writing forced me to slow down and appreciate quiet moments. Because of that I’ve learned how to seek out those conversations and dive deep with some of my friends.
I left college trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. One of the questions I kept asking was, “What have you done all your life that you enjoy and you’re good at?” The only answer I could come up with was writing. For everything else I was either good at it or I enjoyed it. Or it wasn’t a reasonable career option (drinking beer?).
Over the years I have learned that it doesn’t matter if anything happens with my writing. I would love to get published and gain recognition for my work, but that’s not why I write. I write because I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything else. I write to honor my Grandpa. I write because I have to.
If you’re a writer, what is your motivation? What keeps you going when the well dries up? How did you get started on this hard, yet so rewarding journey?
Image Credit: SSWC2013