We write because we must
Without a piece of crust
Before we turn to dust
We write because we must
Now you are probably thinking that Dr. Seuss came back to life for just a moment. No, that was me channeling the good doctor. What an amazing writer he was. I read him as a boy and now my grandchildren read him. He’s like the Beatles and Rolling Stones. They never go out of style or lose significance. Can you imagine the immortality of your work living on and never becoming obsolete or stale?
So far on this journey I have written about writers wishing to become a part of history and leave their mark behind, then I wrote about becoming our best by attempting to master our craft. Now I want to write about the compulsion of writing, the things that drive us to write.
Why do we write?
We write because we are compelled to do so. We write because of the outside force that inspires us and pushes our spirit to fulfill the hunger and need. Most writers would agree that this outside force exists, though they may not agree on precisely how it exists, or in what form. But regardless on the definition, all would agree that this force is hungry and demanding and we are its slave, forced to create to satisfy and comply or else we will be unrequited, for our heart is bound with theirs.
Some believe that they have a muse, a kind of disembodied other self that attempts to help us find our destiny by giving us insights and direction. Still others believe that we are guided by the spirit of the living God. Regardless of whether it is God, or your muse, or a beautiful green sprite that only visits you at night, we have a connection to inspired revelations.
Inspire means “to breath in.” So the idea of your muse or God or sprite breathing creativity into you is quite nice, in my opinion.
Artists can be obsessive and compulsive about their work. They can obsess about it when they are not making it and only find solace and completion while they are making it. They may be compulsive about it by never really finishing it, or being unable to walk away from it. Writers can be obsessive and compulsive at the same time, OCD behemoths about their work. Medication cannot help. The only way to satisfy this desire is to do the work, play the music, paint the picture, write the story.
Sometimes this obsession can be for a higher purpose than just to please the author. Perhaps they are writing it for readers who will be helped by the book. Or for a client who needs just the right touch that only the writer can give. I have even written directly to God in some cases as a way to record my own conversation with Him. I was compelled by an outside force, by my God, and I truly hoped that He would be pleased along with my readers.
How great would it be if we pleased a trinity of readers: our God, ourselves and our readers.
There’s a line in the movie Gladiator, where Maximus’s slave Cicero says, “Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.” Such is the way of the writer. Sometimes we do what we want to do with our writing and sometimes we do what we have to. And sometimes the two overlap and we lose ourselves in doing what we want to do and what we must at the same time.
Because in the end, we write because we must.