After reading Prophecy Six’s blog post about why she writes (read it here) I pondered my own reasons. I mean I’m a *gasp* 40+ year old man who has a wife and a two year old running amuck as well as another baby on the way. On top of that I got a mortgage payment now.
Surely, I should drop the writing and settle into middle age with no greater amibitions or dreams than binge watching Netflix and bitchin’ about the latest football game or election results.
But fuck all that.
The main reason I write today is very similar to the reason I started writing in the first place, to entertain myself and delve into the depths of imagination. I grew up in a boring ass middle of nowhere area where there were few kids my own age and I tended to be ‘shy’ or as the hipsters like to call it ‘introverted’. I never considered myself either and still don’t give a good goddamn about such terms. Regardless, I spent a lot of time creating adventures with action figures in my sandbox out in the old storage shed my parents had in the backyard. Those were my most treasured days, and I look back at them fondly. It allowed me to escape the tedium of my surroundings and I surrounded myself with characters that were vivid and entertaining.
As I got older I began to draw and write stories very much based on similar adventure ideas and was influenced by the fantasy books and movies I saw back in the 1980’s. People like Tolkien, Moorcock, and Alexander fed my imagination. During my adolescence writing allowed me to escape a life of bullies and teachers/parents. In my writing I could overcome the threats and have exciting experiences that were far beyond the banality of growing up in the rural community of my childhood. I had always wanted to get out of there, but as a teenager I lack the means to do so. Writing, and reading, allowed me to get away from it and create my own world and fate. It was a safe place and realm that had limitless possibilities to explore without being under the dominion of parents or school. A place where I was in control.
After I graduated from high school I went off to college a few hours from my child hood home. That’s a time and place which really helped me develop my critical thinking and creativity. I began to create art and write to explore esoteric ideas such as surrealism and dream symbolism as well as get drawn into the idea of automatic writing a la Kerouac and the other Beat writers. I also got more into the writings and ideas of writers like H.P. Lovecraft and his comrades such as Clark Ashton Smith. The whole idea of the pulp/weird fiction really appealed to me and had a great influence on my writing at the time. I think in part because the writers themselves were not part of the upper echelon of the literary world, and were delving into ideas that dealt with madness, sorcery, and antediluvian gods which fascinated me. The idea that mankind was nothing more than a mote of dust in the eye of the universe was one of profound interest to me. During this time writing was not an escape from reality, so much as an instrument to explore the possibilities of creativity. It was time surrounded by supportive and encouraging peers that shared my zest for the Arts and is a time that I cherish.
Now that I’m part of the daily capitalistic rat race, writing and making art is still partially an escape like it was in my childhood. Instead of escaping the tedium and the bullies, it allows me to escape the daily bullshit of work and the current social-political malstorm. It is my favorite form of entertainment, a far cry from TV or Netflix/Hulu. A big part of the appeal these days is the act of creation, creating a world that isn’t as fucked up as our own and filling it with characters that I find fascinating and situations that pique my interest.
In a lot of ways I write for myself. I’m not driven by the need to get a book deal or self publish. Those may be secondary goals once something is polished, but if I were never to get a traditional publisher to sign me I would not feel like I was a failure. If only a handful of people read my stuff or download an ebook I would not regret it.
The only thing I would regret or feel was a failure would be if I gave up on writing or sketching/drawing. If I ignored or repressed the ideas that fill my imagination. The amount of time I have for such expeditions of the imagination are not as plentiful these days, which I don’t regret, but still appreciate and make use of them to the fullest extent I can. And I do not see that ever changing.