So far in this series I’ve considered how I write and what I write. While both posts required a bit of thinking to pull together, this final instalment was the hardest.
When George Mallory was asked why he climbed Mount Everest in the first of three British expeditions in the early 1920s, he responded with the now legendary quote:
“Because it’s there.”
I prefer the updated quote by Larry Ellison, the billionaire founder of Oracle:
“Why do we do these things? George Mallory said the reason he wanted to climb Everest was ‘because it’s there.’ I don’t think so. I think Mallory was wrong. It’s not because it’s there. It’s because we’re there, and we wonder if we can do it.”
This is the main reason why I write. When I read a great novel, I’m inspired. I see the mountain the author had to climb in order to complete it. I wonder if I could do it.
Some other reasons
I don’t think it’s possible to come up with a complete list of reasons for anything. The deeper you dig, the bigger the hole, the more you’ll uncover. Therefore, what follows is a list of four more reasons that came to me when I asked myself why I write. I’ve tried to put them in order of importance.
Leaving a legacy – I never tried to have a child of my own, and sometimes feel sad that I will not leave anything behind when I die, apart from a house, a little money, and some belongings, most of which will end up on eBay, in a charity shop, or buried in landfill. People who have children are to an extent able to ‘live on’ through their offspring and leave a lasting legacy. That’s something I will never be able to do, so perhaps by writing I am trying to fill that fundamental gap in my life.
Exploring how I feel about something or someone – One of my friends used to accuse me of thinking and analysing too much. He was probably right. However, inside me there is a strong desire to ruminate over how I feel. I enjoy exploring my emotions. As humans, most of us feel them, and most can relate to the emotions of others.
Reliving the past – I recently turned fifty, and have more than half a lifetime of memories stored in my brain. As far as I know, I still have many years to look forward to, but I do like to reflect on the past and remember some of the good (and bad) things that have happened. Some of these may seem insignificant, but they are defining for me, and I try to get that across in my writing by allowing my characters to have the same experiences.
Rewriting my life – Who wouldn’t want to go back and live their life differently? I’m not a bad person, but I’ve certainly made mistakes in my life, even if they are only small ones. Maybe I regret buying something extravagant or saying something stupid when I was in a bad mood. Perhaps I wish I hadn’t written a life-changing letter, or then again, maybe I wish I had. What would have happened if I hadn’t given up with something when I did? How would my life be now if I could rectify just one little mistake? I like to explore these possibilities through my fiction.
Write for whatever reason
Some people write for money, others write to get famous. Everybody is different. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong approach.
Whatever makes a writer tick, that’s the reason they should be writing.