I have a friend – sad, I know, only one – and that friend asked:
Why do you write, why continue to write when it all seems so futile?
The question took some time to mull over, and I had to toss a few glib answers out the window (defenestration at work – and yes, the window was open, we have a nice, cool day today).
And the answer is:
Why do I write? I write the stories I’d like to read.
There are millions of books out there, why not just read them? Surely some must be the books you’d like to read?
There are so many books, and I’ve read a lot of them, and what I’m finding is that a lot of the books aren’t fitting my needs anymore, so I have to write the stories I want to read.
It doesn’t make sense – how can the books out there not meet your needs?
I want to read books and stories that I feel, journey with characters I love and hate and curse and coddle; I want to be part of that journey, to experience things new and old, sparkling fresh and aged with patina. I want the next story I read to be the best story I’ve ever read. Maybe I’ve read too many books (now, that is madness!), so now I have to write some new ones …
That doesn’t answer the question – why do you write?
I write the stories I want to read, and because I want each story to be better than the last.
What? Does that mean every story has to be an improvement on the one before?
Of course. What’s the point of doing the same thing all the time? What’s the point of reaching a level of comfort and standing there as if there’s nothing left to strive for? The next book should be the best one so far because if it isn’t, then the writing has become stagnant and the writer should be locked up away from the story ideas in a sensory deprivation tank (not that I think it would stop the ideas, but … hmmm, an idea forms).
I am a writer. If that’s madness, just make sure you lock me up with a way to create words and story and where I can pace and act out the events and feelings of the people who come to life on the page.
How do you find so many story ideas if every story has to be better than the last?
Ideas are the breath of life. They come from seeing with clarity, with asking questions about why this, how that, what if … story is everywhere, as long as the writer knows to shut the lips and open the mind, to see and hear and smell and touch and taste the moment so it can become part of a new journey …
I am a writer, and my next book will be my best book, and when that one’s finished, I’ll say the same thing again …
And the next book will be in a final first draft by end Feb (or I may have to eat my hat – hey, dog! bring that hat back!). It’s another thriller, set in Australia, with a dog …