So this week’s challenge over at Terrible Minds has been to answer the question, “Why do you write?”
I actually hate this question, because I feel like there’s no way to answer it honestly without coming off as some kind of pretentious asshat. “Who do you think you are, talking about Writing? You haven’t published anything yet, and your stories are only slightly better than fan fiction at this point, and only ‘better’ in the sense that they’re not wish-fulfillment jackoff material about that time Deadpool and Twilight Sparkle had hot twisted interspecies nookie in a barn in Wyoming and then the power of Equestria turned Deadpool into a cute red pony and he totally didn’t want to kill people ever again, the end.”
There’s a scene in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that sums it up pretty well, I think.
- Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?
Guildenstern: No, no, no… death is not. Death isn’t. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I’ve frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no… what you’ve been is not on boats.
I tried being not a writer, and it went about as well as that time I tried being not gay*. Words follow me around. I have always been prone to nightmares and a subconscious that regurgitates odd scenarios that beg analysis. I collect words for later use, and I absolutely worship writers. They’re the ones throwing coal into the cultural engines non-stop. We’re surrounded by words – and writing – every day.
I’ve slung bagels and pizza. I’ve been an artist-for-hire. I’ve been a political canvasser. I’ve been a tech support drone. I’ve worked a cash register. Flying Spaghetti Monster help me, I’ve even done collections**. I’ve gone on countless interviews in shoes that didn’t fit, to companies I didn’t know, in industries I wasn’t interested in, just so I could make money. I’ve failed those interviews, and the one time I succeeded I honestly wish I hadn’t, because by the time the first week was over I was ready to jump in front of a bus.
I have always tried to be practical, sensible, logical and other Supertramp lyrics. But as I get older, my definition of what makes sense has shifted. It no longer makes sense to do what I’m not good at and what I don’t love. I only get one shot at life, as far as I know, and even if reincarnation or regeneration is real, so what? I’ll be someone else by then.
So now I’m on the path to Becoming a Writer, as one might say, but it doesn’t feel like a massive deviation from some other journey, nor does it feel like I’m starting out after breakfast to throw a ring into a volcano. It feels more like a course correction after the last of the
mutineers have passed out from a night of drinking and playing Captain.
This is my ship. Time for me to drive.
*Don’t do that. No, really.