CloverReef

Why do you write?

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Found an article on one of the writing pages I follow where the writer explores the two reasons people write a novel, and I was like, “WTF?! Only two?!” Apparently, we fall into two categories. 1: We feel we have a good story to tell, and 2: we feel we have a good story to sell. I may be simplifying the point of their article a little, but I wanted to bring the discussion here. 

For me, it’s neither of the two options. I don’t always feel like I have a story to tell. Sometimes I just have characters or events in my head and a story forms as I’m writing. Sometimes I don’t even have that much, but I just need to write because the options I have to read just aren’t satisfying a specific need or craving. 

So, as the title of this thread asks, why do you write?

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Firstly, in my quite possibly not so humble opinion...  Two reasons are a little bit of...  Well, Ian Malcolm said it best: That's one big pile of shit.

To lump people together greatly cuts out others...  At least I think so...  I fall into neither category, too.

I had a pretty bad childhood, so the writing allowed me to escape elsewhere and live in wondrous worlds of crazy, bizarre things away from reality.  As time progressed, I just liked to write, never showed anyone, never wanted to.  It wasn’t a "tale to tell/tale to sell", it was just something I did.  Now, it's a relief and definitely stress reduction technique...   But it's still mainly because I enjoy it…

Do I want to be published?  One day, certainly...  I'd love to see my name at the bookstore...  And walk around anonymously...  Because I'd like to point out things...  And slap people upside the head...

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When I started writing it was because I had a story to tell, I had no idea it would be one that would sell. Now, I write because I can, because I like to, because it’s the one thing I can do that’s just for me, because Tahn likes my stories even if no one else does, because there are still stories to be told, and lastly and least important to me right now, because my publisher wants another book.

I think there are as many reasons for people to write as there are people who write. No one has the exact same motivations or things that drive them to put words on paper and saying there are only two is being very narrow minded about it.

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23 minutes ago, CL Mustafic said:

I think there are as many reasons for people to write as there are people who write. No one has the exact same motivations or things that drive them to put words on paper and saying there are only two is being very narrow minded about it.

I agree 100%. I have a hard time believing writers write just to sell books. I mean, of course a lot of writers want to make money off something they put so much work into. That’s just natural. But for most of us, I think there’s more than just the possibility of monetary rewards that inspires us to put pen to paper that very first time.

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I should probably reply to this thread when I’m not having one of those ridiculous crises of confidence that strikes every so often… but let’s pretend I’m not. So here goes:

I think the two reasons mentioned in the article are a load of claptrap. It might apply to novel writers, but it certainly doesn’t to fanfiction authors, who can’t sell what they write, so therefore the second reason can never apply. As for the first, I don’t think many of us start writing (original or fanfiction) with a fully formed story in our heads. I think it comes to us during the process.

Why do I write? Getting down to the nuts and bolts. I love the language. I like words, and I like playing around with them. I’m not educated, so I don’t always know the correct terms, but I know more or less what I’m doing. Also, despite the crisis mentioned above, I suspect I’m actually quite good at it, unlike, say… football. So I write. And I don’t play football.

I like writing casually, sure. I also like writing less casually. I like writing where I take my time over word choices and put a lot of effort into building and maintaining a specific atmosphere. The horror story I wrote for JayDee is an example of that. There’s lots of water-based description going on there that happens when I’m describing ordinary things. i.e. her hope bubbled up in her. The S&M story The Hook I adored writing, because of the atmosphere of despair in it.

Fanfiction is an art in and of itself. Lots of people who hate fanfiction will disagree with me here, and they’re free to, but I won’t change my mind. Let’s imagine I’m my usual confident self for one moment. I’ve now got years of fanfiction writing experience behind me. I’ve written in a lot of different fandoms. There’s a slightly different art to writing fanfiction for a literary medium, to writing for a visual canon, like a film or tv series. The echoes you need to include are different. At this point, I’m like a master art forger who can knock out a fairly credible da Vinci, but can’t paint for themselves. I’m not less of an artist.

I still haven’t found that key that makes the original work sparkle in my head the same way as the fanfiction does, but if I ever do, I probably won’t look back. In that case, the second reason will probably seem to apply. But it won’t be the first why and wherefore. It won’t be the driving force. That is and will always be the need to play about with words, to use them to create a feeling, or an atmosphere, or to say something that can’t really be put into words, only alluded to by way of a story. If we could say these things out loud just like that, we’d never have made stories. Stories grant us power we don’t otherwise have. It’s a good feeling, even if you tend to write rather awful things.

:)

Ok… can I go back now?

*huddles back under rock*

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33 minutes ago, pippychick said:

Also, despite the crisis mentioned above, I suspect I’m actually quite good at it, unlike, say… football. So I write. And I don’t play football.

You are so excellent at it! You’re one of only fanfic writers I love because even when I’m not familiar with the show or book you’re writing about, I can still enjoy your stories. You make it feel like it’s not just an offshoot of something else because you make it your own and are so damn good at it. And football sucks anyway. :P

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3 minutes ago, CL Mustafic said:

You are so excellent at it! You’re one of only fanfic writers I love because even when I’m not familiar with the show or book you’re writing about, I can still enjoy your stories. You make it feel like it’s not just an offshoot of something else because you make it your own and are so damn good at it. And football sucks anyway. :P

Aww… thank you :wub:

I suspect the crisis has been brought on by a particular demon that affects most of us. The one that sidles up to you and whispers: “Hey, you… you’re just kidding yourself. This is shit. You know that, right? You’d be much better off spending your time doing something useful. And you know everybody hates it when you spend hours and hours in front of the computer.”

I hate that demon. I wish it would die a nasty, painful death. Maybe that’s a good Halloween fic idea!

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42 minutes ago, pippychick said:

Aww… thank you :wub:

I suspect the crisis has been brought on by a particular demon that affects most of us. The one that sidles up to you and whispers: “Hey, you… you’re just kidding yourself. This is shit. You know that, right? You’d be much better off spending your time doing something useful. And you know everybody hates it when you spend hours and hours in front of the computer.”

I hate that demon. I wish it would die a nasty, painful death. Maybe that’s a good Halloween fic idea!

That demon is an asshole. It’s never been a problem to me, but I can be a bit on the arrogant side when it comes to feeling entitled to do things that make me happy. But I see it a lot in the people who are close to me. We gotta slay that bitch. 

To me, even if someone aims to sell their books, if the passion and love for words is there, they will never seem to be writing purely for the money. And I can honestly say that not a single person on AFF seems motivate purely by money… Maybe the odd one or two motivated purely by their genitals, but there’s nothing wrong with that either!

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30 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

That demon is an asshole. It’s never been a problem to me, but I can be a bit on the arrogant side when it comes to feeling entitled to do things that make me happy. But I see it a lot in the people who are close to me. We gotta slay that bitch. 

To me, even if someone aims to sell their books, if the passion and love for words is there, they will never seem to be writing purely for the money. And I can honestly say that not a single person on AFF seems motivate purely by money… Maybe the odd one or two motivated purely by their genitals, but there’s nothing wrong with that either!

Only one or two?  I thought this place was filled with nutjobs!  Myself included.

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30 minutes ago, CloverReef said:

That demon is an asshole. It’s never been a problem to me, but I can be a bit on the arrogant side when it comes to feeling entitled to do things that make me happy. But I see it a lot in the people who are close to me. We gotta slay that bitch. 

I say, we get together, trap this ugly motherless chrak'tova (I am definitely going to start using Straxi in life now, just to get weird looks...) and send it and RL into the sun...  Kill it!  Kill it with fire!

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Just now, Tcr said:

I say, we get together, trap this ugly motherless chrak'tova (I am definitely going to start using Straxi in life now, just to get weird looks...) and send it and RL into the sun...  Kill it!  Kill it with fire!

:fthrower:

I find AFF forums/chat to be a good repellent to those demons.  I’ve tried loads of garlic, but that just offends the co-workers.

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3 minutes ago, Desiderius Price said:

Only one or two?  I thought this place was filled with nutjobs!  Myself included.

By ‘the odd one or two’ I totally just meant you and me, DP. 

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Just now, Desiderius Price said:

:fthrower:

I find AFF forums/chat to be a good repellent to those demons.  I’ve tried loads of garlic, but that just offends the co-workers.

Well, I tried flamethrower, but apparently work frowns on that...  After a few people turned KFC...  And part of the building became a bonfire...  I don't understand why they'd frown on it...

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I write because its fun.

In a weird sorta way.

Its like I’m putting symbols together and those symbols enable communication to other minds. Other intelligences with different perspectives and different thoughts.

Its frightening and exhilarating. These sigils of mine are communing with others that I may never get to met and if I’m lucky will do so long after I’m gone.

So I guess in a sense. When I write I’m praying.

I mean hell Grand Inquistion started on here and somehow became a blend of sci-fi and high fantasy with a male couple. The world maybe isn’t ready for such a thing. But ya know what? I’m going to try anyway.

 

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I fell in love with words when I was small. My parents told me I loved to use big words, and I actually can’t remember learning to read. It just happened, I think. The symbols made sense.

So, because I love words, I decided to try writing, and I was gods-awful. I mean, really, truly dreadful. But I loved it. Real life kicked into gear, there was work and being an adult, and then… I played a CRPG, and I hated the plot holes. I’d played earlier games in the same ‘verse, loved them, but this one? Craters in the plot. So I started to read fan fiction which tried to fix those holes, and fill in the blanks, and one day, I decided to write a fan fiction of my own. It was dreadful, really, but one reader asked, “What happened next?” and that was it.

I still love fan fiction. I do. I always will. I write original works now, but there are those fandoms that will always feel like home for me, and I will never be ashamed of writing fan fiction. There is a distinct art, a skill in taking someone else’s world and asking “What if…?”

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27 minutes ago, InvidiaRed said:

I write because its fun.

Yep, that’s why I still do it, I enjoy it.  It took me dabbling in fanfiction to realize that I do love it, because I had believed my mother’s discouraging words before that (don’t confuse intent with effect here, she still thinks I don’t like writing, because, I’m definitely not showing her what I’ve been writing here!).

Of course, now that I’ve got the halloween story into the hands of my beta, I’m starting to work up another story :P

 

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Just got my digest and I don’t think this can be a binary for love or money question. Nor are these mutually exclusive goals. I’ve written up story ideas I hoped would be marketable, but I sincerely doubt I could write an assigned story. My muse rarely takes requests, and less often orders. One of my worst trainwrecks of a NaNo was trying to write a mainstream mystery. I had setting and a trace of plot, but these carefully planned characters were flopping like dead fish. I didn’t care about them or the story, but I was hoping to write something sell-able. Bad, bad writer.

If there were only two reasons, it would be a sliding scale. The reason slides from end to end depending on finances and story involved. So different days and different works might move the marker up and down that bar. I think Bujold’s Spirit Ring was much of the way is it is because business reasons were choking her muse. It’s okay, but far below her other books. Paladin of Souls has similar themes, but love of writing dominated.

Actually, I’m sure there are many more reasons.

10 hours ago, pippychick said:

I think the two reasons mentioned in the article are a load of claptrap. It might apply to novel writers, but it certainly doesn’t to fanfiction authors, who can’t sell what they write, so therefore the second reason can never apply. As for the first, I don’t think many of us start writing (original or fanfiction) with a fully formed story in our heads. I think it comes to us during the process.Why do I write? Getting down to the nuts and bolts. I love the language. I like words, and I like playing around with them. I’m not educated, so I don’t always know the correct terms, but I know more or less what I’m doing. Also, despite the crisis mentioned above, I suspect I’m actually quite good at it, unlike, say… football. So I write. And I don’t play football.

Some stories, my conclusion is clear from first inspiration. My one active looks to take at least a dozen chapters to get to the climax that got me started. My first long form, I had the characters set, but I didn’t know where it would end for them personally. But most of the time I know the ending crisis I’m aiming at.

I like words, wordplay, and puns, but spent a very long time as only a avid and greedy consumer and sometime con writers’ groupie; I only started writing at about 42.  I want all my brain cells working so I can write, so I avoid the pigskin.

8 hours ago, InvidiaRed said:

I write because its fun.

In a weird sorta way.Its like I’m putting symbols together and those symbols enable communication to other minds. Other intelligences with different perspectives and different thoughts.

That communication is probably the best thing. My favorite comments are when readers manage to express that they got that I was expressing. The most frustrating when it is clear they haven’t comprehended, like when they request a canon death not happen three chapters after it did… (critics can be amusing or I revise if I wasn’t clear.) The grammar I hated as a kid is so necessary to send those images and feelings into my story.

7 hours ago, BronxWench said:

I fell in love with words when I was small. My parents told me I loved to use big words, and I actually can’t remember learning to read. It just happened, I think. The symbols made sense.

So, because I love words, I decided to try writing, and I was gods-awful. I mean, really, truly dreadful. But I loved it. Real life kicked into gear, there was work and being an adult, and then… I played a CRPG, and I hated the plot holes. I’d played earlier games in the same ‘verse, loved them, but this one? Craters in the plot. So I started to read fan fiction which tried to fix those holes, and fill in the blanks, and one day, I decided to write a fan fiction of my own. It was dreadful, really, but one reader asked, “What happened next?” and that was it.

I still love fan fiction. I do. I always will. I write original works now, but there are those fandoms that will always feel like home for me, and I will never be ashamed of writing fan fiction. There is a distinct art, a skill in taking someone else’s world and asking “What if…?”

Yeah. Choosing the best word was always important to me. I don’t remember family comments, but I saw comments from elementary report cards where the teachers were alarmed by my 35-year old vocab. I was too busy reading to realize they were upset.

This comes to a third reason for writing: frustration at bad writing. It doesn’t really matter why to my muse, but when characters or plot jump the shark in a broad and profound way, my muse jumps up and down shouting, ‘I can do better than this!!!’  It has to be a character and setting that I care about. A lot of shows, movies, and games have disappointing turns. But it takes a special level of meta-writing that breaks with common sense to put my foot into the door for a new fandom. (and break said door) :D

There’s more supporting reasons: accomplishment in finishing a story, challenges/competitiveness, an idea that won’t go away, and others I will remember later when I fall asleep… So the slider bar becomes a spider web with the writer moving between different drives.

I would like to shift a little closer to monetary, but originals demand more uninterrupted work time than I’ve had. I can manage fanfic and sometimes original shorts but not the original novels. :bash:

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9 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

Yep, that’s why I still do it, I enjoy it.  It took me dabbling in fanfiction to realize that I do love it, because I had believed my mother’s discouraging words before that (don’t confuse intent with effect here, she still thinks I don’t like writing, because, I’m definitely not showing her what I’ve been writing here!).

That is apparently exactly what happened with my father, and it took about thirty-five years for me to write outside dreaded school assignments. I don’t remember the incident, but it had a clear effect on my writing and willingness. Moral: don’t over crit kids.

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32 minutes ago, Anesor said:

That is apparently exactly what happened with my father, and it took about thirty-five years for me to write outside dreaded school assignments. I don’t remember the incident, but it had a clear effect on my writing and willingness. Moral: don’t over crit kids.

Harry Potter is what got me started back in college while waiting for OotP to be released, I wanted more, and discovered fanfiction.  There was one, I wanted more of, but the author did as fanfic authors tend to do, post less and less frequently as time goes on; so, I took it upon myself to write a story, based on that fanfic (it’s *NOT* posted here, nor will be because it wasn’t authorized by the author).  Realized that I enjoyed it, started a sequel, before, like fanfic authors, I got stuck and, well, that fanfic’s yet to be finished.  Fast forward to a few years ago, I started a rather smutty sci-fi/original PWP that developed a crude plot, but then realized that the circumstances around creating that setting would be interesting, so we’ve now got my current series of stories. 

Shortly after I had started writing fanfic, I did come to realize that the creative writing assignments, I did enjoy, the others...not so much :P  If I come across any of those assignments, I’m definitely going to type them up to save them for posterity (or, figure out how to read those discs – I think I still have them, but its a non-standard format).

 

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6 hours ago, Desiderius Price said:

Harry Potter is what got me started back in college while waiting for OotP to be released, I wanted more, and discovered fanfiction.  There was one, I wanted more of, but the author did as fanfic authors tend to do, post less and less frequently as time goes on; so, I took it upon myself to write a story, based on that fanfic (it’s *NOT* posted here, nor will be because it wasn’t authorized by the author).  Realized that I enjoyed it, started a sequel, before, like fanfic authors, I got stuck and, well, that fanfic’s yet to be finished.  Fast forward to a few years ago, I started a rather smutty sci-fi/original PWP that developed a crude plot, but then realized that the circumstances around creating that setting would be interesting, so we’ve now got my current series of stories. 

It was a video game, Tekken, for me. I had started writing before that, just for myself, horror movie scripts. My very first script started with an old woman getting her head lopped off by a flying vinyl record that I wrote when I was 11 lol. But then I discovered Tekken and the fan fiction community and it was like “OMG there’s more story options than what the game gives me?!” And that was it. I was a fan fiction writer for almost a decade after that before I had my messy breakup with the fandom and went exclusively original. 

Fandoms are an excellent training ground for budding writers. I think you guys are right that neither of the two options listed in the article really apply there. To start in fan fiction it’s gotta be about the passion for something. Passion for the characters, passion for writing, passion for the story and wanting to see more of it than the original offers, or just wanting to see George and Bob make out. 

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