If you’re a fiction writer yourself, you’ve no doubt been questioned about it.
Why do you have your head in the clouds?
Why are you daydreaming all the time?
If you write something like fantasy fiction, prepare for these questions to become a bit ruder:
Why are you bothering with kids’ stuff?
When are you going to write proper novels?”
It’s difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t write, why the hell we do this thing.
At times I wonder myself. Couldn’t I have just had a normal hobby? But then again, what’s normal? Liking make-up or football? I don’t know. All I know is that I wouldn’t change it. Not even with all the difficulties and that voice in my head telling me I’m shit all the time.
Writing is great, and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I do it. On the professional side, writing for money is easy to understand. There’s a solid financial incentive. But fiction? I’ve never made money from that, I’ve not formally published anything (yet). Many of us will not hit the bestsellers list and will struggle to get published at all.
So why do we write fiction?
It links to the reasoning behind this blog – freedom, or more specifically escapism. Escapism is probably my top reason for writing, particularly in the fantasy genre.
Now my life isn’t some hellhole that I need to retreat into a fantasy world. It’s been pretty bad at times, but my need for writing doesn’t usually correlate. In fact, the worse my life gets, the less likely I am to write. So, what am I really escaping from?
Life can be incredibly mundane at times, and for that I’m grateful. Mundanity is a luxury – to get to a point in your life where your basic needs are met, that you notice there’s a hole there but you have no idea what’s meant to fill it. It beats worrying about whether you’ll eat or get fresh water all the time.
Some people fill that hole in their lives with religion, exercise, drink or drugs, others do with fiction or gaming. These things give meaning to your life and shape you as a person.
This realisation was responsible for a little writing boost last year.
I realised that I was spending all my mental energy at work and for what? To be able to afford some nice wine or cakes? Spending it on momentary delights, rather than something that made me feel worthy or life feel worthy to me.
Writing was what I wanted. I work as a copywriter, which is great, but it wasn’t scratching the itch.
Fiction, on the other hand, lets me tell my own story.
Creative pursuits such as writing, art, music and so on are well known for their ability to let us express ourselves.
The things we must do to survive often don’t have space to let us do that – not truly anyway. That’s why I think it’s incredibly important to have That Something that you love, that makes you excited, that other people may not get but this is your thing.
Have you ever met someone who has no real interests? They may like things, but they’re not particularly passionate about anything. I think it’s quite sad (not in a derogatory way) that there’s nothing that sparks the same kind of joy as a musician gets when they pick up a guitar.
To tell our story
Some part of us wants to use fiction to tell our story, our side of things and our view of the world.
This telling our story element to fiction isn’t just a case for biographical style novels. The story you tell doesn’t need to be gritty, realistic and based on your home town. You don’t have to put a [character based on me] there, with one for each of your friends and family members.
Telling your story could mean a theme or an element. If social injustice is the story you want to tell, you can do this with books about discrimination, about crime, about fantasy, about romance. You can place these themes in any story you want.
I personally, have woven my interests in history and religion into my main novel. It’s not that I’m religious or have a particular point (e.g. religion is good or bad). It’s just something that fascinates me and it’s important to the story I tell for this reason.
I’ve been known to be a little bit of a control freak. I’m not as extreme as some control freaks, but I like order, I like to be in control of my situation as much as I can. But life’s a bitch isn’t it and we never really get the control we’d like.
Writing fiction, especially in a fantasy setting, allows you to have total control over the elements in your world. There’ a certain element of wish fulfilment and fantasy in writing fiction. It might not be something many of us like to admit, but it’s there for a lot of us.
So, there you have my main reasons why I think we write fiction. I hope you could identify with at least one of the points. But if not:
Why do you tell stories? What do you get out of it? Why do you think we write fiction? Please feel free to share your musings below!