Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why Do We Write?

by Steven VS I have a problem. Well, it’ not so much a problem as an annoyance.

I don’t know any writers. Like...zilch. In fact the only writer I’ve ever met was only in England for a semester, and then she flew far away to the exotic lands of New England (her words not mine).   

So maybe you’re thinking, “Wow Steven you sure hang out with some unimaginative folk.” Well I guess in a way that’s true… but hold on a gosh-darn-tooting sec! You see, interwebbers, I have a dark secret… I’m a… a… medic. I work in a hospital, which is kind of like a dungeon, except the funding is worse, where out of the box thinking and creativity lead you on a one track ticket to Dermatology (read- Purgatory). 

Disclaimer – I am semi-kidding.

Look, I’m not saying I don’t love them or that they‘re all thick as two short planks. But when I mention the word publication, they’re thinking of the British Medical Journal not the New York Times Bestseller list. HA!! And you thought Divergent was dystopian. 

So why is this an annoyance? Well, if I ever mention I’m a writer, they always say something like “oh you should do medical journalism” or something to that effect and I invariably want to smash my head with one of our ridiculously large textbooks (which you may think is an overreaction, but you have this said to you a hundred times, and get back to me. I’ll give you a free textbook).

Okay, so they don’t all say that. Maybe… one in ten will say, “oh, what is it about?” and so I get all excited and tell them firstly it’s Middle Grade – first raised eyebrows – and by the time I’ve gotten to part that it’s all set on a floating city, I’ve pretty much lost them completely. Because although they’re really, really smart, they can’t quite get their heads around why a grown adult with a grown up life and grown up responsibilities would write about an eleven year old boy who flies around in airships. Isn’t that what little kids do? Spend their hours in make-believe, daydreaming?

It makes… no sense to them. Which is funny, because to me nothing could make more sense. 

I guess this is my extremely meandering and long-winded way of asking – why do we write? What drives a person to spend weeks, months, sometimes years crafting something out of the ether with the odds of being published so heavily stacked against you, you’ve got as much chance as an X-wing against the entire Death Star. 

Well I can tell you why I write and don’t worry the answer won’t be abstract or messianic (there’s enough of that around, I’m sure). I write because the world is all too often grey – or at least shades of it. There are moments of love and brilliance, but all too often, they’re few and far between.

But when I write the world I craft is filled with passion and emotion - blues, violets and sheerest reds. A world where the brilliance is in the mundane - the complexity in the conflict of the human heart… and… I’ll get down from my soapbox now. 

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that when I write the world seems a little brighter, that bit more inspired. And sometimes that’s all you need. I write because I want others to enjoy a fun adventure, but to be honest, a lot of it is for me. I have a good life and I’m sure a lot of you reading do too, but, you know, we’ve all had that day…that long day. And suddenly a little inspiration goes a long way…

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real ... for a moment at least ... that long magic moment before we wake.”
George R R Martin

Click here to visit Steven's blog, Middle Grade Privateers

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