WHY I WRITE
When asked this on an Australian TV show Bill Bryson, the renowned travel and history writer replied, ‘Money’. This is an irrefutable goal for any writer in the commercial world of books and one to which I subscribe: sales are what puts food in Winston’s dog bowl.
Yet there are obviously other factors that come into play when considering the motivation of any writer to sit and tackle the challenge of the blank page.
Here are a few of mine that keep me going;
1. ‘I reckon I could do that’
Colin Dexter (RIP), the inimitable creator of the Inspector Morse series, was initially spurred by his reading of a slightly disappointing murder mystery while on a rain-drenched holiday in the early 70’s. The germ of an idea for his first novel came to him and that debut kick-started an enviable career. I read a lot of crime fiction and in amongst a myriad of titles I’ve encountered works that I could, at least, match if not better (it goes without saying that I’m not suggesting I could match the aforementioned Dexter).
2. ‘Sheer egoism’
Here I’m quoting directly from George Orwell. ‘The desire to seem clever, to be talked about, [and] to be remembered after death…’ is, in Orwell’s view, a ‘strong motive’. It is not too healthy to crave affection but the desire for recognition is inherent in our psyche: it’s why the recognition of the efforts of others is a worthwhile thing to do. When I receive positive critical feedback it feels great.
3. ‘Pure enjoyment’
Far and away the most compelling factor is that I enjoy the actual process of writing. It helps you, to a degree, understand your own mindset. It provides the perfect excuse to raid the treasure chest of your memories. It gives you the opportunity to connect with other people in a very meaningful way. There are few more enjoyable and satisfying activities than whiling away the time, at a desk, creating your own fictional world for others to appreciate.