As a writer, I’m curious. What is it about writing that drives us? Why do we sit in front of a computer or a pad of paper or a typewriter, whacking away at those little black keys or scribbling black words on a piece of paper, developing words and phrases and sentences, many of which no one else will ever see? Is it enough to say, as many have, “I can’t not write?” For me, no, it isn’t enough. That little aphorism with its double negative [if you remove the double negative, it says “I can write,” which is ludicrous] doesn’t cut the proverbial mustard with me. There’s more to writing than can be expressed by a ditzy little proverb.
I sit in front of a computer (I have graduated to a laptop now) 7 to 8 hours a day, writing, revising, checking email, getting caught up on the news, communicating with friends, making new friends, and so on and so on. It’s like a full-time job, except that I do it at least 6, usually 7 days a week. I’d do it 8 if I could fit it in, I enjoy it that much. Through my writing I am adding my voice to the vast crowd in the universe. I’m adding to my basic knowledge of life and history, and I’m projecting my self and my opinions to those who care to listen. (I could get cynical about it and say that I blog because those who claim to know say that I’ll never get anything published if I don’t have a blog or a website, but that trivializes the process of writing.)
Clearly there’s more to writing than not being able to not do it. (Damned double negative.) Most everyone writes to one degree or another. It’s just that a “writer” is someone for whom the act or process of writing represents a substantial part of their life, even a profitable part. Before I became a “writer” who put fictitious characters and their lives and activities down on paper for others to read, I wrote scientific stuff as a part of my job for 40+ years. Mostly scientific papers that summarized what I did in the lab, but it also included grant proposals, press releases, talks that I gave in seminars and scientific meetings, weekly and monthly reports at some of the places I worked, notes at the end of each day in a lab book or in a computer, and so on and so forth. Scientific work requires a lot of writing. Clearly, “writing” encompasses a large number of different activities that are as varied (almost) as the number of people who do them.
In other words, I write because I have something to say. I’ve become a full-time writer now because I believe I have stories to tell, stories that will be original, imaginative, and entertaining. Stories that will illuminate some particular and personal aspect of the human condition, an aspect that only I can express. I became a scientist because I wanted to find out new things. I became a writer because I wanted to say old things in new ways. I do it to say something. You do too. “Nuff said.