Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Is it a dumb question? I've seen all sorts of answers put forward ranging from the tortured artist who must write or die to the weary hack churning out another article to pay the rent. But money and artistic glory apart, why do we choose to express ourselves this way? Is writing necessary? If all the fiction ever written disappeared tomorrow would it make a difference?
Everybody has their own reasons for wanting to write, I guess. But judging by the sheer numbers of wannabe authors in the world there is clearly a deep-seated drive to commit ourselves to paper. However unique we like to think we are, writing is something many many people aspire to.
Story telling is as old as humanity and was the original entertainment. Sitting around the camp fires prehistoric people regaled each other with myths and legends, passed down from generation to generation. We loved to tell, and we loved to listen. Surely novel writing is simply another form of this, taken to a more refined form.
I think it's connecting with others, in a strangely paradoxical way, considering it involves long lonely hours in the company of fictional creations. It is a distilled shout from the hilltop, amplified through the pages of a book to reach hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of listeners. Someone once said, we read to feel we are not alone. Perhaps we write for that reason too.