When anyone baffles me with a “Why do you write?”, I actually think it’s a more civilized way of asking “Are you crazy?”
I always wanted to be a writer ever since I knew how to hold a pen. Well, that’s a plain lie. I sometimes wish how wonderful my life would be if I always knew from my childhood that I wanted to be a writer when I grow up. A writer writing in English, that is. How I secretly envy Orwell and other blessed souls.
I grew up studying in my mother tongue for the first twelve years of my formal education. So as a non-native speaker growing up in India, English happened very late in my life, both academically and otherwise. Growing up I never had the slightest dream of writing anything beyond what was needed to pass the exams. And add emails, and writing software programs for computers later in my life.
Writing for humans is something I never considered seriously until my mid-twenties.
The itch to pursue writing started around the time when I left my first day-job in 2007 while I was in my mid-twenties. I was trying to start some kind of a software business on my own. That’s also when I began to read serious fiction and non-fiction in English. I had a personal blog where I started sharing a few things. But I wasn’t any serious about writing even then.
Where and how did this start then? Honestly, that’s a mystery to me. Probably, I would never be able to narrow down what led me to pursue writing as a first-class hobby. But one thing is for sure: the beauty of English prose will top that list before anything else. How could you never want to write when you have read enough masterpieces? Even writing one artful, eternal sentence is probably what drives me to pursue this most fulfilling, yet oftentimes ruthless hobby.
Why do I write? I am probably trying to find an answer for that question through writing itself. Writing makes me meditative. The joy of pouring the muddy thoughts from my brain’s neural network onto the pages is orgasmic, to say the least. It temporarily shuts down all the nonsense that my brain wants to deal with if left idle. It also makes me forget about the physical pain and health issues: this is a more recent and surprising discovery. Writing also acts as a free therapy for the body and soul. It makes me wonder about the human existence itself. I feel more alive while I write, and paradoxically, yet I don’t care if I am alive or not while I write.
Through writing I not only learn more about myself, I have also discovered it changes me in the process; especially, creative fiction does this more than any other form of writing.
What about fame? Fame or money? Or both? I would still write even if no one pays me, and no one ever reads the damn things I write. But I do think it’s good to have some readership to reassure the writer in the making. Thanks to the technology as there is hope that someone will eventually read what we write. Fortunately or unfortunately, writing need not be a lonely business anymore. Technology has not only revolutionized the way we write, but it has also changed the way we reach out to the readers.
But all these answers probably lead to more questions and more searching.
Only through writing more will I ever find why I wanted to write in the first place. But I believe writing is the most expressive of all art forms. And not to forget, it is also the most powerful, brutal, and ruthless of all art forms. (I mean no offense to other artists.)
So, why do I write? I just don’t know the answer yet beyond my obsessive love for English prose itself. Maybe I will know the answer someday. Maybe I will give up thinking about the answers and just keep writing.
But for now, the only known reason why I write is I want to be a better writer.
A couple of short stories I published here:
I originally wrote this short story(flash fiction) for a writing prompt on WritersDigest Forum.