An introspective look at why I chose to turn to the pen (or keyboard).
Why do we write? It isn’t a question many authors ask themselves or choose to write about. While a select few do delve into their inner psyche and reflect on their addiction to writing, most avoid the question, too busy with their noses in books or fingers running across keyboards, telling their truths.
For myself, I do sometimes stop and wonder. Why am I doing this? Why am I compelled to create imaginary people, the fictional worlds they inhabit and give them obstacles to overcome (or usually be consumed by, in my case). I think that the answer is far from simple. As a fledgeling amateur, I can say with certainty that I do not write for money and have no particular desire to earn any, I just want my voice to be heard in a sea of chatter.
I think that, primarily for myself, writing gives me a sense of power. As an autistic person, I crave control and rigidity. I find that through writing I can become godlike, I can dictate who, what, when, where, why and how. I can do anything that I can image, and I can imagine quite a bit. That’s not to say I religiously plan my stories, I see where my writing takes me and try to follow the natural flow of the story, but I take comfort in the fact that control ultimately lies with me. As a student of English Literature for the past six years now, I also understand the power of words and not only the people who write them. They have the ability to shape thoughts, move men to action and change the world. Words have seen nations rise and fall, words declared the birth of America, the most powerful nation on earth, words are written in the law and maintain power and oppress the weak. If in my writing I could gain only a shred of this power, one atom of it, then I would feel very powerful indeed.
I think that also, as unoriginal as the idea is, writing is a form of escapism. As a writer I can ascend from my mortal bounds and become something else entirely, I can familiarise myself with people who I have never met before, or places that I could – literally – only dream of. After a long day at work, or during a particularly low moment, I visit my stories and greet the characters as old friends, the settings I create become second homes where I can take of my veil of respectability, reveal my soul and become my truest self; when writing I have no rules to adhere to, no expectation to meet, nor any people to impress. I am me in my rawest form and revel in the freedom I am given. Writing is like a magic carpet to transport me to wherever I can imagine, the darkest depths or the highest Heaven, so much so that writing becomes a haven for me, a comforting blanket which I can cover myself with when real life becomes that scary monster in the closet, threatening to intrude.
To put it simply, writing is fun and multi-purposeful. It’s an exercise that stimulates the brain and the imagination, it can alleviate stress or inspire us to create. Our ability to write, to pass on words from generation to generation, culture to culture or from race to race is a gift that we will never stop using. Here, I will finish with a quote that summarises my thoughts superbly:
“Words are in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows