Why We Write
Words flit in and out of our awareness like fish in shoals— many so drab we scarcely pay attention; others teach us or guide us, imbue memory and behavior like computer code. Some few— some few inspire us, change us in subtle and striking ways, play on our minds and emotions like a maestro on a concert grand. These words, by and large, are invisible to the eye. They slip through and resonate, indeed explode, at the deepest levels of our being.
Words that matter are the product of disciplined study and practice— hard won. At best— an art. Words that matter are most often composed in solitude over lonely hours.
Every serious writer I’d venture yearns to tame the ineffable, express the inexpressible with elegance and beauty. Writers of non-fiction weave facts and interpretation into arguments explicitly crafted to make us believe and care. Writers of fiction are tricksters employing artifice to space- and time-shift us into alternate realities. Poets strive with every syllable to share feeling and thought across the wide reaches of pure whimsy to the sublime.
Some writers, no doubt, seek fame and fortune. That’s a rocky road that requires one part literary craft and two parts marketing skill. Some writers are professionals who write to inform, persuade, or entertain for a paycheck or advances and royalties. For others writing is a hobby— an escape from the mundane world. Diarists write in privacy for self-discovery and to assert “I am!”
But if honest, I’d assert, most writers when asked would say they contracted a compulsion to write at an early age: they write because they must.
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Lloyd R. Prentice is author of Freein’ Pancho; the three-volume graphic novel Aya Takeo (with illustrations by Sonia Leong; and The Gospel of Ashes – a thriller. His work has been excerpted on the Fictional Cafe as well. Lloyd lives in Marshfield, Massachusetts; spends all time he can spare in Baja Sur, Mexico.