Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I Write

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival." — C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

            As I work through my first big writing project, the question of why I'm writing comes to mind. It's one of those big questions that people tend to ask. It fits with the "Why am I here?" and "What's the purpose of life?" genre. As such, there's many weighty answers to be had. Some people write in order to prove that they existed. After they've died, their writing lives on, a permanent record that they affected the world in some small way. Others write in order to display some theme that has taken hold of their lives. Be it the viciousness of poverty or the wickedness of Latin verbs, these people write so their opinions can be taken on by others. And there are many other reasons for writing.

            For me, writing is an extension of my being. It should be; that's another integral part of being a writer. But I love telling stories. Having people settle around and raptly listen to a tale gives me an immense amount of joy. The story could be frivolous or incredibly poignant, but the act of telling is vital. Storytelling throws me back thousands of years. I become a Homer to the Greeks, offering my tale for their consumption and enjoyment. Together, both storyteller and listener become enthralled in the interaction, and both are (hopefully) bettered by the experience.

            Writing is simply another extension of this storytelling.  I hope my written accounts give people some measure of joy as the story spools out before them. Yet, I don't write to be frivolous. Much of my material deals with important themes, like the personal side of war and the interplay between violence and the pursuit of the Good; telling these themes is important to me too.

            Writing for me is like the quote above. Like friendship, writing is not necessary for survival. It doesn't produce food or provide self-defense against an attacker. Instead, it's one of those things which makes life enjoyable, which adds value to surviving.

            This is why I write. Why do you?

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