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#Whyiwrite and Friday Links

October 21, 2011

If you haven’t heard, yesterday was National Day on Writing. Writers all over the twitterverse have been tweeting with the hashtag #whyiwrite. I’ve added my own humble tweets, serious and silly, to sweeten the mix but I thought I’d share some of my thoughts here.

Why I Write is a question I have pondered for half my life. My ponderation of this question started when my dad told me I should do something more worthwhile with my time (such as going to law school or medical school). I was so desperate to find an answer to prove him wrong. To prove that books and writing are just as important as life-saving medical procedures.

I never did find that answer. I even sort-of work in the medical field (a retail pharmacy that shall not be named here) and am misunderstood by half my co-workers who don’t read much if at all. I’m the nerd of the herd.

But writing has always held magic over me. The process and the result. My dad sees genre fiction as completely escapist and of little to no value. And yes, books are a wonderful way to escape from the stress and sorrow of your life; that is a very important feature of books and entertainment in general.

Why do I personally write? Writing a story, thinking in stories, has always been a way for me to make sense of life and its randomness. To  understand. To get perspective.

I read other stories to learn about situations I hope to never be in or could never be in and see how the scenario plays out. Characters are the big thing for me in stories. They make a story real when the setting might be impossible.

I know people who look down on genre fiction, expecially fantasy, because what’s the point of a story about dragons, mermaids, and dancing gnomes? None of those things are real. My answer is always my favorite quote by G. K. Chesterton:

“Fairy tales are more than true;

not because they tell us that dragons exist,

but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Dragons may not exist but threats do. Mermaids may not exist but frenemies do. I certainly hope dancing gnomes don’t exist. Period.

Fantasy is nothing if not extended metaphor. I will use metaphor to conquer the terrors of the world every time. This is why I write.

And now, some links!

All Hallow’s Read   Neil Gaiman’s newly invented holiday for giving books because there aren’t any book-giving holidays

The Magic Words   Five magic words every writer should use. Very true.

I Could Have Done That   A wonder blog post by Mur Lafferty, reminding us writers to just shut up and create

The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination   Harvard commencement speech by J.K. Rowling in 2008. If you haven’t read this, you should. Now.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 21, 2011 7:21 pm

    Man, it sucks that I missed that on Twitter. Your father sounds a lot like mine.
    I liked the writing to gain perspective comment. I have a hard time understanding emotion, especially my own, and I write to understand feelings, because emotions aren’t a result of just a moment, they’re the result of a story, the result of common cultural thinking, the accumulation of so much information and to understand emotion, one has to understand the story.

  2. Cheri permalink
    October 22, 2011 9:52 am

    I love the dragon quote – and I would even if it wasn’t from GK Chesterton.

  3. October 24, 2011 9:37 am

    I LOVE All Hallow’s Read! Thanks for introducing it to me, I’ve already sent The Graveyard Book to one of my military buddies that is in Afghanistan right now.

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