Usually, when a writer is invited to do a guest blog, her host will send some hint of what she should compose for the blog in question. It’s generally a broad suggestion, sometimes meant to help a guest customize their words to that particular website’s themes. In this case, the email I received mentioned “why you write” as a possibility. And, I have to admit, I hung up on those words.
It was the first time I really considered the why. Sure, the question has been asked, in some form, before. But I started thinking about why writers, well, write.
We all have different reasons. Some writers have very precise explanations. For others, the motivation is vague. A lot of us feel compelled to write for no clear reason at all. We write simply because we must.
Usually, when asked why I write, the question has a specific twist to it. Why did you start writing? Well, that’s an easy one to answer. My job was down-sized. I had a lot of time on my hands. So, I wrote.
But, that question in the email … why do I write?
That’s a little more complex.
Some layers of my answer are rather simple. I’m a dreamer. Beneath the snarky cynic lurks the heart of a romantic. Drama is my middle name. I enjoy the process of creating Person A and Person B, then trying to build a world for them in which all roads lead to each other. And, frankly, it’s a rush. There are those rare occasions in which you throw a bunch of words into a document, or into a notebook, and you read them back and think, “Wow. That’s pretty damn good.”
Rare, but worth savoring. Every once in a while, it’s nice to give yourself a little credit as a writer.
Peel away some of those layers, though, and there can be much more complicated answers to that simple question.
Sometimes, I have to laugh at the things I write. Not because they’re worthy of mocking (I hope), but because I can’t believe the stuff I come up with. Especially when compared to who I am in the real world.
I write romance, yet my love life is slightly less bleak than your average black hole. I have zero ability to flirt. If given a choice between a night out on the town with a handsome Latin Lothario and sitting at home and eating a loaf of bread, the bread wins. Dates are torture for me. Nothing witty comes to mind. I stammer over every word. Know how to tell if I have the hots for a guy? Watch as I do everything in my power to never, ever look him in the eye. Or broadcast attraction. Or do anything other than a bad imitation of a rutabaga when standing near him.
And yet, what seems to be my strength in storytelling? The relationships. People tell me how real, how natural the chemistry is. My dialogue is spot on, in manuscript format. In reality, however, I have the verbal skills of Beaker from The Muppet Show. If only I could translate that stuff to life!
Reading is escapist. A shot to get away from the daily grind. Use the imagination a little and transport yourself to another land, another world, another time.
Maybe, that’s my answer to the question. It’s my form of escapism. Abandon my social ineptitude for a bit. Fantasize about what it must be like to be the girl that every man in an imaginary town wants. Marvel at the potential to always have the perfect comeback to any comment thrown my way. Live the fantasy of being someone who doesn’t need to settle for relaxed fit jeans because any other cut results in catastrophic muffin-top issues.
It’s certainly much cheaper than joining Match.Com, Weight Watchers, and investing in a few rounds of electro-shock therapy to work out the kinks in how I relate to others, that’s for sure.
J.M. Kelley is the author of Drew in Blue, a contemporary romance available from Lazy Day Publishing. Laws of Attraction, a short paranormal romance, is featured in Indulgence, Tales of the Cirque Romani, also from Lazy Day. Her upcoming novel, Daddy’s Girl, a work of women’s fiction, will be available in January, 2013, from Turquoise Morning Press. Blog, purchase links, and news can be found at www.jmkelleywrites.com.