This question arrived in my email this morning, from a young writer with whom I’ve been corresponding, and sharing ideas and advice. Bear in mind that I responded to this at half-past-stupid-o’clock, because I didn’t want to wait. This is a tough question – simple, but profound in its simplicity. I had to answer it right at that moment; no other moment would serve.
So, here is the reply I sent, tapping out with one finger as I swayed near the kettle waiting for water to boil, and coffee to make itself.
I write because it keeps the crazies at bay. Gives them a channelled outlet of expression, so that I don’t lose sleep, vomit uncontrollably with fear and anxiety, or despair at my life.
That’s the dark reason.
The other reason is to see what combination of words I can create to express a thought in a unique way. A way that no one has thought of yet. One that is clever, precise, erudite, challenging and humorous.
Example from a lesson I taught yesterday on Romeo and Juliet: Juliet weeps over the death of Tybalt, and Romeo as the cause. To demonstrate just how much she has been crying (and bypass grabbing copies of the play for the kids to read), I said, “She is a veritable raisin of a girl.” A class of 31 students, 13 years old, laughed because they got that image.
That is why I write. To laugh. To distill the very essence of an idea down to the best choices of words.
Just remember: words are cat toys for your mind. 😉
I apologise for the emoticon; it was very early.