Why Write?

There are some writers who aren’t too worried about having an audience. Only a handful of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published during her lifetime, possibly without her permission.  Her fellow Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins felt publication conflicted with his vocation as a priest.

The rest of us want as big an audience as possible for our work. I’m about to have a book published. It made me think –  why do we work so hard to write things that we want other people to read?

When the first human painted on a cave wall (the first publication?) perhaps they thought they were changing the world. Or making a statement about existence.

Or maybe they just liked the attention it got them. George Orwell said writing came from the “desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc.”

A professional writer would probably say, “I write because people pay me,” but it’s more than that. As a journalist the satisfaction of seeing my byline on a story wasn’t just financial – the words had escaped and were somehow “out there.”

My first time in print was as a teenager on the letters page of 2000AD, a British science fiction comic. The joy of being acknowledged by Tharg (the fictional alien editor) still thrills me to this day.

If you have any idea why you write, please leave a comment.


An audio version of this blog is available here:

4 thoughts on “Why Write?

  1. A good question. For me l write to release emotion ,either in poems, short stories or the start of a novel l have never finished. Sometimes, something, as mundane as little written note entries into a diary l pick up every now and again, is my reason to write. l won my first writing prize at school, from a Cadbury Chocolate Competition when l was 11 yrs old. l had no idea what the prize was. l just enjoyed the experience and to my great surprise l was deemed to be judged the best entry in the class. l won a box of chocolates, but to me the prize was not important, much to the dismay of my best friend. It was the fact that someone else, a person l had never met, a complete stranger, had enjoyed what l had written, just as much as l had enjoyed writing it. l write for myself but if its ‘enjoyed’ by others unintentionally from me, then l feel they understand a small part of me, who l am.
    Great first blog Henry, congratulations. I’m looking forward to reading some more.

    Like

    • I know what you mean about emotion – that is definitely part of it – I suppose writing needs to provoke emotion. The fact that a perfect stranger could like your writing is an amazing thing.

      Like

  2. Congratulations on having your book published! Tell us more about the process of writing it and if you have more books planned, now this on is in the publisher’s hands.

    In answer to your question: I write to change the world.

    Ambitious, I know.

    Sasha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sasha,
      Thanks for following. Will be revealing anything remotely useful I can think of about my method in later blogs! Basically, I persevered. I’ve already started on the new book and am enjoying it. Liking your ambition!

      Like

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