Questions I Don’t Like Answering
Why Do You Write?
By J.S.Watts Most writers will tell you there are questions they don’t enjoy answering. Ironically (or perhaps not) they are often the questions we are most frequently asked. I’m writing an occasional series of lighthearted blog posts looking at some of my personal “oh no, not again!” questions and exploring why I don’t relish having to respond to them. The second question in the series is, “Why do you write?” Let me start by turning this question back on you, “Why are you you?” I’m guessing responses to this will loosely fall into one of three generalised categories: The gnomic no-answer: “because I am” The psycho-babble, spiritual, scientific splurge that is largely incomprehensible and usually ends up sounding as if the speaker is up their own arse; A long and eventually boring list of all the things that make you uniquely you. And so it is with my responses to the question, “why do you write?” Because I do (for me, it’s such an intrinsic part of my nature that I struggle to come up with a clear and coherent response); Because I breathe, am genetically pre-disposed to, have an itch in my soul that I need to scratch, am compelled to, am drawn emotionally and intellectually to self-expression via verbal communication, it lifts me up to a higher plain, it provides me with a sense of satisfaction - self-fulfillment – completeness, the telling of stories is an integral part of the human experience at a molecular level, etc. (in other words, it’s such an integral part of me that I’m attempting to describe the indescribable and am in danger of sounding like a right numpty in the process); Because I like words, find language fascinating, enjoy communicating, like telling stories, like books, read a lot of books as a child, earn my living at it and need to eat, want my words to reach an audience beyond the inside of my head, want to be published/am published, think I’m good at it, have been told I’m good at it, am good at it, enjoy doing it, want to leave a legacy behind me, need the money, have an ego that wants to express itself (careful – this can get dangerously close to a category 2 style answer), have always done it, have (nearly) always wanted to do it, had stories told to me as a child, have an imagination that needs to be turned loose occasionally, people tell me they enjoy reading what I write, and so forth and so on and I could go on and on and probably will…
In other words (and I realise that I’m skating dangerously close to category 2 again) it’s what I do and who I am. I have no real explanation for it, but in trying to provide one I shall end up spouting intellectual gobbledygook or a never-ending list of concrete things to justify what I do that will ultimately miss the point, but will take up a lot of time and space in the process. Having said that, all of the above are probably true. Alternatively, I could just reply, “Look, I do it. I have a desire to do it. I enjoy doing it, but I have no real idea why I do it. Okay?” but that’s not what my questioner really wants to hear. People like answers. That’s why they ask questions, after all. The next in the series of Questions I Don’t Like Answering will be: “Where do you get your ideas from?”