Following the Voices: Why We Write
I’ve been involved with writing for all of my adult life. From training manuals to brochures to website content to novels, I’ve written on some level for 20+ years. I’ve also taught writing at the collegiate level for 14 years. The pay is crap, the hours long, and the work tedious. Anyone with the delusion that writing is a glamorous profession should follow a writer for a few weeks and see the grind that is holding down a full-time job while trying to create quality prose. A miniscule minority of writers earn a living from their work, and even those who do often toiled for years in obscurity before breaking through.
So if writing is so difficult, the obvious question becomes, “Why the hell do so many of us do it?”
The answer is simple. Virtually every single writer I’ve ever met, regardless of style or medium (prose, verse, screen) writes because they must. The voices demand they must. To non-writers, that may sound like madness, but those of us who’ve heard the voices know that those characters in our heads are as real as any person, rock, or tree in this world. They haunt, pester, and harass us until we tell their stories. They come at odd hours and inopportune times, whispering fragments of their tales and interrupting us until we sit down and write.
To outsiders, this often makes us seem odd, eccentric, and mysterious, but really we’re no different from others. We just happen to sit alone for hours and have conversations with individuals no one else can see or hear. Okay, I admit, it sounds a little strange, but other writers know what I’m talking about. Just as most musicians hear music others can’t, writers hear their characters and are compelled to tell the stories. When it’s flowing and the characters are all chattering away, the best thing the writer can do is get out of the way and let the voices speak. When writers try to force or change the story, the characters will protest until it’s fixed. As Ray Bradbury once advised, the worst thing a writer can do is think. Thought is the antithesis of creativity.
Along with the voices, most writers I know have a passion for symbolic language. This passion drives us to learn more about our craft, to hone our skills, to study those who came before us, and to polish our work until we’re tired of looking at it. While creativity and creation require us to step aside and let the voices speak, editing demands attention to detail. It’s monotonous work that takes hours and hours of dedication, which is why it takes passion on the writer’s part. The passion for language drives writers to polish and tweak until the story is as good as we can make it.
Additionally, most writers are naturally curious about the world around us. We rarely are satisfied with superficial knowledge of a subject. The more we learn, the more we ask why, and we absorb information with an insatiable appetite. This curiosity is innate to nearly every writer I’ve ever known, and while it may manifest itself in different forms, such as 19th century technology or cutting edge hard science or medieval metallurgy, most writers will study their subjects for hours to ensure they get the minutia right.
I’ve been fortunate to be associated with The Literary Underworld for several years now, and two common threads that connect everyone I know who’s a part of this consortium of independent authors are that we all have a passion for language and curiosity about the world. Over the years, we’ve had wonderful discussions, during con weekends and online, about subjects ranging from sports to human rights. I’m proud to be associated with so many talented authors, people who I consider part of my extended family. If you’re looking for good books written by people who care about their craft, look no further than TLU. From Horror to Hard Science Fiction to High Fantasy to Sword and Sorcery, TLU has something for everyone who loves to read, and when you support TLU, you are directly supporting independent authors. Please, stop by the Literary Underworld today at http://www.literaryunderworld.com/ and check it out the selection. Use this code to receive a special discount for a limited time:
D.A. Adams is author of the fantasy series The Brotherhood of Dwarves. You can follow his madness at daadams.com