Why do I write?

Why do I write?

 

That is a question a lot of people ask me and it is one I often ask myself.

 

Writing is a lonely, sedentary task. It is time consuming, frustrating and unrewarding in many ways.

It was Paul Simon who wrote ‘All my words come back to me – in shades of mediocrity – like emptiness in harmony’.  That about sums it up.

 

I am not the next John Fowles. I did not study English Literature. Why do I think I can write?

 

I write because I know I can articulate the contents of my mind into words that will resonate with my readers. I know I can and sometimes I do.

 

I write because I have a head that is full of passions, ideas, thoughts, opinions and stories and I have a burning need to write them down. I enjoy writing as much as I do reading – and I love reading.

 

I am not religious. I do not believe in any god or afterlife; I do not believe there is an ultimate purpose. I believe we have to give life a purpose. We have to strive to make the world a better place. Writing does that for me.

 

I love nature and am destroyed by what we are doing to the planet. It eats me up.

I write about the things that mean something to me. I am a communicator who is an idealist; I believe we can make things better.

 

I write because I believe in creativity. Creating something beautiful or passionate gives purpose and fulfilment. My books contain the wonder in my head.

 

I write because it is difficult. Writing a novel is like climbing Everest. It is so hard that it leaves you with a sense of fulfilment when you’ve achieved it. I’ve climbed a lot of mountains.

 

I write because I am a rebel who wants to change the system. I want to change it because it stinks. I think we can do better.

 

I write about my passions.

 

There are no rules. I like to push the limits in every way going. My books are different. They are sometimes extreme.

 

I write for fun.

 

I have written 54 books and published thirty five. Thirty five are available on Amazon. They are my babies. They will live longer than me.

 

I dread to think how many hours I have sat in the dark typing on an old type-writer or pounding the keyboard on my various computers. How much of my life? How many tens of thousands of hours?

A book would take me a couple of thousand hours. I done rewrite after rewrite.

 

So far I have earned around £700 for all those efforts. I make a very little for each book. It’s not a great return. If it was about the money I could have worked in a filling-station and bought a house!

 

It’s not about the recognition. You write into a relentless vacuum.

 

It is sometimes the most discouraging, pointless, lonely task in the world. Sometimes I read what I have written and despair.

 

But I’m still writing!

Comments

opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 1:56pm
So why do you all write?
A Classicist Writes Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:07pm
This is so wonderful; I am drawn to the idea of writing as a lonely task; lonely; however, only until you are joined by your audience, who behold your words; then you are in like-minded company.  Thereafter, your impetus is irrelevant because what you say will resonate with each individual as he or she receives it.  I recently wrote an article on on my blog on why I write: it was purely self-indulgent, and not nearly as insightful as this offering...
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:20pm
Opher
 
I started to write because I wanted to improve my English and because I counldn't find a site which is as comfortable (and without ads) as WB and which allows you to get the people on the site quite well. And I always had a flair to languages - I wrote poems in German before, and I wrote song lyrics.
 
I've been writing a multimedia diary in German since 1999 which has more than 3'000 pages of entries, videos, mp3 voice comments, mp3 songs, articles and photos - for my daughter, actually, when she gets 18 I'll give her that DVD, and she knows all about her dad LOL
 
Some stuff is really private, and she also will understand why I divorced my first wife, and why she has 2 half-sisters, why I started to drink, how I got out of it - everything. She knows a bit, we talk a lot, but only the surface. I think that will be the most important thing I've done in my life.
 
Otherwise.....writing for me is not loneliness. I have people in mind when I write something, they are present...and finally, I also started to give my people and others a chance to see what Africa is and why I love it so much - removing prejudice if possible.
 
 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:23pm
BTW: I started to write a novel, got lost at page 60 and stopped. Either it was an early visit by Mr. Alzheimer or I should have used a flowchart in order not to get lost in the story LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:25pm
BTW2: I found out that I can express myself better through music. It also requires less of work, since I'm basically a lazy guy ;-)
Dino Manalis Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:45pm
You are expressing your thoughts to the rest of us!  Keep doing it!
Katharine Otto Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:52pm
Opher,
You've published 35 books?  Golly.  I'll be lucky if I publish one.  Your post inspires me to re-double efforts to finish my forever-in-progress novel, which is about . . . forever.
 
I write because I can't not write.  Most of my writing takes the form of journalling, the best way I know to put thoughts to words and thus make them conscious. Also, I suspect others have found, as I have, that no words exist to fully elucidate thoughts, so writing remains forever challenging.  
 
Good post, good subject, and a thought-inspiring one. Thank you. 
Katharine Otto Added Sep 9, 2017 - 2:58pm
Stone-Eater,
I always enjoy your perspective.  You say writing is not loneliness, a theme we've both touched on elsewhere. Maybe writing is a way of assuaging loneliness, a way of reaching out to others unseen.  My journal is a letter to myself, in a way, written for someone (me) who cares, but it also helps clarify thoughts, find kind but honest ways of relating to others, and review past events in ways that help bring understanding to the present.  
Shane Laing Added Sep 9, 2017 - 3:28pm
I cannot write. I am just hoping that some of the genius of all on here will rub off on me. I love reading all and comment on some and give a perspective from the other side of the pond.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 3:34pm
Why do I play ?
 
Stone Improvisation
 
Just a minute ago. Writing is fun, and music is fun. Make fun, not war LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 3:35pm
Katherine
 
My words. People who write have earnest thoughts, Same goes for Shane.
Leroy Added Sep 9, 2017 - 4:08pm
I'm not a writer, so I can't answer the question.  I am just a hack with a keyboard.
 
"I am not the next John Fowles. I did not study English Literature. Why do I think I can write?"
 
Thank goodness you are another John Fowles.  I read his The "French Lieutenant's Woman" in college.  I thought it was good, but I seemed to miss something.  I read it again after college.  I still didn't quite get it.  I read his book, "A Maggot."  Then I understood the other.  I took both books outside, doused them with lighter fluid, and set them ablaze.  Probably explains why we are on the opposite sides of most issues.   But, I did study English literature.
 
Although I agree with little that you write, please keep writing.  It is always interesting.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 4:45pm
Hey Opher
 
"I am not the next John Fowles. I did not study English Literature. Why do I think I can write?"
 
I'm not anglophone but I write stuff in English. The ones who have the will to understand will understand, the others, well, whatever :-) Never let yourself be influenced by the opinions of others too much. When you REALLY like to do something, you will do it good at one point. If not you wouldn't have written all those books, right ?
 
Americans don't do understatement. They write ONE book and scream HERE I AM ! And surprise: It works LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 4:52pm
BTW: Always do what you like. Show it. Forget the ones who citicize you because they're not the ones who can do better. I mean I'm no Gary Moore, but I don't give a shit. I tell people: Either you do better than me, if not, shut up. Show me.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:35pm
ACW - that sounds good I'll have to check that out. I always like reading about why people do things.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:36pm
SEF - that sounds great. I'm sure that she will greatly appreciate it. It is so good to have things like that.
I made audio tapes of my mum shortly before she died. She was telling her tales of childhood and the war. It was really interesting. I'm so glad I've got them.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:37pm
SEF - I find that when I start writing a book it just takes me over. My whole mind is full of it and it spills out.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:38pm
SEF - writing is not a lonely experience for me but I think it is for my wife. I find it fulfilling. She thinks I'm obsessed and begrudges the time I spend on it.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:39pm
SEF - music is great - I've written a few songs but I can't play an instrument so that is limited. It gave me an incredible kick to hear my songs performed though.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:40pm
Dino - Thanks for that. I probably will.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:40pm
Opher
 
Never mind what your wife says. She has to accept that because it's YOU.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:41pm
Katharine - thank you very much for that. Trying to capture the thoughts and ideas in one's head is incredibly difficult but I find it immensely fulfilling. I'm sure you do too.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:43pm
Shane - sure you can write. You just have to tune in and express yourself. Good to hear from you.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:44pm
SEF - Link didn't work for me. - I'd love to hear some of your stuff. I love make fun not war.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:46pm
Leroy - Thank you for that. We might not agree but we can talk and understand each other through words. That is important and valuable.
The Magus was John Fowles masterpiece. That played with my head - beautifully written.
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:47pm
SEF - too true Sef. I'm not into marketing. I'm into writing. That's what I enjoy.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:51pm
:-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:52pm
BTW: Link works here...
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:54pm
SEF - can you send me a you tube link or something?
opher goodwin Added Sep 9, 2017 - 5:55pm
SEF - it says the link expired or may not be available to this audience.
wsucram15 Added Sep 9, 2017 - 7:24pm
Opher;
I am trained to write. It comes with the study of law..research and writing.  But even before that, you have to have either creative or business writing(which you have to test for) , English literature and Composition. Other classes if you want them also.
 
I think most classes have term papers that require formal writing in college so you write a lot and specifically in citation and form required.   I do quite a bit of long hand writing, even now.
 
Writing a book is entirely different, at least to my experience which I have done and did not publish. Too personal but it was meant to help others and as it turned out many people were bothered by the parts they played. So I put it aside. 
I have another I am working on, but feel that multiple others are as well, but it is my best chance at publication due to the material.  I am actually much more interested in the first book..
 
Anyway..I write because;  a)  I like a challenge by those more informed; and b)  I can write well.  On here, I enjoy stories and people, even if I get mad and dont agree, I learn things whether it be about people or a subject. 
 
 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 7:24pm
https://youtu.be/NSqIWZgARLU
 
Ok. Posted it on YT ;-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 9, 2017 - 7:36pm
wsucram15 Added Sep 9, 2017 - 8:12pm
Oh Opher..expression,
That would be SEF... hes a good writer.
Ric Wells Added Sep 9, 2017 - 9:40pm
Opher.... I write because I can.
Paul H. Mayo Added Sep 9, 2017 - 9:42pm
I find I can express myself easier by written word. The words seem to come easier to my fingers then my mouth, if that makes any sense. Putting down in words anger I kept in for years has helped me greatly. But a writer I am not. 
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 3:16am
wsu - you ought to self-publish it for yourself. That is good. You can take it down straight away if you don't want anybody else to have it or you think it might upset people. But you'd have a copy. That's good.
This site is great because you get such a range of views and come up against some real characters.
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 3:17am
SEF - thanks so much for doing that. I really appreciate. When I get a bit of time today I'll enjoy that.
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 3:18am
Ric - To write or not to write - that is the question. Those that can do.
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 3:19am
Paul - I think the writing process slows things down so that you can look at your thoughts and understand them better.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 10, 2017 - 5:34am
Opher
 
No sweat - catch you later :-)
Bill Caciene Added Sep 10, 2017 - 7:00am
To Leroy (and anyone else who thinks they’d like to answer on behalf of Leroy),
What makes you think you’re a lesser writer than Opher?  Is it because he spends more time writing or has books published that makes him a writer and you a hack?  Or were you just being humble?
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 10, 2017 - 7:14am
Jeanne
 
Thanks :-) But I'm not really a writer. More kind of a reporter who tells his POV, a commentator....and throwing in a poem or a song once in a while :-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 10, 2017 - 7:15am
Bill
 
My words. Each of us has his own personality that comes through. And that's what makes this site interesting.
Bill Caciene Added Sep 10, 2017 - 7:24am
I'm not talking about this site.  I'm talking about the use of the word "writer" to describe oneself.   Who's a writer and who isn't?  
Leroy Added Sep 10, 2017 - 11:45am
"What makes you think you’re a lesser writer than Opher?  Is it because he spends more time writing or has books published that makes him a writer and you a hack?  Or were you just being humble?"
 
In the loose sense of the word, anyone can be a writer or a painter of art.  It takes great skill to be a true writer.  I'm honest enough with myself to know that I don't possess the skills of a great writer.  One will never hear me say (with seriousness) that I am a great anything.  That is for others to judge.  No.  I would not say that I am humble.  The knowledge of what I am to myself is knowledge enough.
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 12:40pm
Bill - as far as I'm concerned people who write are writers. That includes Leroy, SEF and everyone else on this site. The distinctions are only whether you happen to like the way they write. Everyone has their own style - that's cool.
Paul H. Mayo Added Sep 10, 2017 - 12:46pm
Opher- The odd thing is I write and articulate faster than I speak! I tend to overthink what I want to say, and it never comes out right. Always looks better on paper.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 10, 2017 - 1:39pm
Paul
 
The odd thing is I write and articulate faster than I speak!
 
Same case here. I write a much better and nuanced English than I speak.....words don't come as easy when talking...
Paul H. Mayo Added Sep 10, 2017 - 2:26pm
Stone, I would show my brothers something I wrote, they look at me and say you didn't write this!
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 10, 2017 - 3:49pm
LOL
Katharine Otto Added Sep 10, 2017 - 3:51pm
Interesting discussion, here.  "Writer" is a label that some people use to identify themselves.  I don't apply the term to myself much, because writing is the result of having something I believe is worth saying.  I don't understand people who want to be 'writers" without a clue as to what they want to say.  It's like wanting money for its own sake.  What do you do with it?
 
Leroy,
I'm not a big fan of John Fowles, either, although I agree with Opher that "The Magus" was his best.  I've read "The French Lieutenant's Woman" twice and thought it contrived.  "The Collector" was fascinating, from a psychological point of view.  It seemed to capture its protagonist's paranoid schizophrenia better than anything I've ever read.
John Minehan Added Sep 10, 2017 - 5:59pm
John Fowles?  When ever I hear of him (which is somewhat infrequently), I think of this: "When Woody Allen was asked whether he would make changes in his life if he had the opportunity to do it all over again, he jokingly replied he'd do 'everything exactly the same, with the exception of watching The Magus.'"
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 6:00pm
Paul - I am always boggled by the way my mind finds the words at the rate it does. They magically appear. Consciousness is the most remarkable thing.
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 6:01pm
SEF - the process of writing seems to go at a different speed that gives your mind time to select the words. It is also more focussed.
Leroy Added Sep 10, 2017 - 6:03pm
Doc K, if you're into the psychological point of view, there is none better than Dostoevsky.  He was the master of plots and human psychology.  Fowles was a good writer; I just don't like his views of life.  I don't plan to read any more of his works.  I enjoy the exchange with Opher, but our views are diametrical.  I'd wager that he prefers Tolstoy to Dostoevsky.  I'm not a fan of Tolstoy.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Sep 10, 2017 - 6:03pm
Katharine - writing is just one of the creative processes to lose yourself in. We all need something. Writing is my thing.
The Burghal Hidage Added Sep 11, 2017 - 10:30am
scribit ergo sum
opher goodwin Added Sep 11, 2017 - 12:46pm
TBH - writing is all.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 1:42pm
Opher
 
I don't select the words, I write as I type. That's why there's typos and grammatical errors around I mostly only notice after having posted the comment....and have to correct. But that's ok. We're not an elitist literary circle here :-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 1:43pm
TBH
 
Ich schreibe, also bin ich ;-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 1:45pm
Opher BTW:
 
You see ? Another error:
 
I write as I type
 
Should read:
 
I write as I think - or vice versa. Which one is correct now ?
opher goodwin Added Sep 11, 2017 - 2:42pm
SEF - perhaps they are both right? And that proves that we are indeed an elitist literary group!
opher goodwin Added Sep 11, 2017 - 2:44pm
SEF - the incredible thing is that we think. That pink jelly in our cranium is capable of conjuring up words, images, thoughts and feelings - amazing.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 3:13pm
Opher
 
All too often Amygdala gets in the way of logic and reason ;-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 3:17pm
For starters
 
http://brainmind.com/BrainLecture4.html
 
Now guess why humanity hasn't improved since. Quite obvious, right ?
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 3:19pm
The old limbic brain has not been replaced and is not only predominant in regard to all aspects of motivational and emotional functioning, but is capable of completely overwhelming "the rational mind" due in part to the massive axonal projections of limbic system to the neocortex.
 
This explains why we never learn.
 
;-)
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 3:20pm
Sorry...out of subject, Shit.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 11, 2017 - 3:21pm
I guess I have to write an article about this to make it more clear. Or do you want to do it ? I'm quite busy next.
opher goodwin Added Sep 11, 2017 - 6:44pm
SEF - I think you should do an article about that. It is fascinating stuff.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Sep 12, 2017 - 2:49am
Maybe I'll try...
Even A Broken Clock Added Sep 12, 2017 - 11:13am
Opher - I'm one of these folks who had both the science/math part of the brain and the creative / artistic side of the brain engaged. I followed the science side towards an engineering career, but kept the other part of my brain engaged. Kept trying to write that novel, but characters were wooden.
 
Now that I've retired, I have the time to write, and have come to realize that my strengths are in teaching about scientific issues, slice of life pieces, and political commentary. And I write to keep my brain engaged since I no longer have to worry about writing procedures for SAP transactions for money.
opher goodwin Added Sep 12, 2017 - 7:32pm
SEF - do it - it'll be good.
opher goodwin Added Sep 12, 2017 - 7:33pm
EABC - it's good to have that harmony. I'm a bit like that too.
I write for pleasure and out of an obsession. The ideas flow and I enjoy writing them out. That's good.
Dave Volek Added Sep 14, 2017 - 2:23pm
Opher:
Yep, you pretty much summarized my thoughts on being a writer.
 
And I'm a little reluctant to call myself a writer for no one has really paid me for my work.
 
My first serious foray was to develop a business English (BE) program for non-native speakers who are learning English for international business. I found too many shortcomings with the mainstream publishers and invented my own BE curricula which went well for most of the students I was teaching (but it was not the lowest common denominator, so there were dropouts). After many hours of writing and re-writing and many $$ getting the product to a professional appearance and many $$ on marketing, I got basically nothing.
 
Around 2010, I realized that I am going to need a lot more marketing $$$ to get my ideas on BE training accepted. I just didn't have that money. I had to ask myself, "Was I just wasting my time and money?"
 
I had to admit that I had a great deal of creative satisfaction in creating DVBE, and it did give me skills to move into other "inventions". Were I to do again, I think I could have made 1/4 the investment to test drive this idea in the marketplace. From then on, I decided my spare time would be used to develop my invention, but I would develop them inexpensively. While there has been little response for anything I have created, I am not losing my shirt this time. 
 
These days, I am putting my fourth version of Tiered Democratic Governance together. I think things have changed enough (thanks to Mr. Trump) that the world may be interested in hearing new ideas for governance. But maybe not. I just have to put up there and find out.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Sep 15, 2017 - 3:52am
Dave - that's all you can do. Writing is the fulfilment in itself. Anything else must be considered a bonus. At times that is frustrating. When you spend ages writing you would like it to be read and everybody loves praise, but, as I say, that is a bonus.
Edward Miessner Added Sep 16, 2017 - 4:47pm
Why do I write/ Because my muse tells me to. Other than that I don't know.
opher goodwin Added Sep 16, 2017 - 5:13pm
Edward - exactly. We write because we have to.