When I was asked by the Edmonton Writer’s Group to put together a brief piece on what inspires me to write, my mind raced with possibilities. There were a thousand different ways to take it—ideas like rivers branching apart and meandering off in countless possible directions.
In a way, that’s all a part of it.
I write to keep track of all the ideas that spring unbidden to mind throughout the day. I write to celebrate the characters I imagine and keep them alive a bit longer. I write to test concepts, or explore paths not taken.
Sometimes, I write to work out some stress or anxiety in my own life, other times I write to create them. Sometimes writing soothes my soul, other times it is the cause of my greatest anxieties. It kills time, and makes it worthwhile.
I’ve heard it said that the reader may live a million lives, while the non-reader only gets one. What then of the writer, who creates and destroys at will?
Is it a God complex? A compulsion? A coping method?
I don’t rightly know. It is probably some fantastical chimera of all those and more.
With a few short exceptions, I’ve written in at least some capacity for as long as I can remember. Worlds have formed in the ether of my mind, and been lost in its clouded daze. I’ve known imagined people better than most acquaintances, and wrestled with enemies more real than any in daily life.
My inspiration comes from what I see, and what I don’t. Experiences I’ve had, and those I wish I had. I have never once sat and wondered, ‘What should I write today?’. That—to my mind—seems torturous, and perhaps even disingenuous.
I don’t write just to write, I write because I cannot not write.
A fellow writer and close friend of mine was once considering dropping the pen and stopping his writing efforts. He contacted me for advice.
My answer was simple—I told him to do it.
Put down the pen, close the laptop, and do with your life whatever you think will bring you joy.
He was surprised with this response, but I left him with one final piece of advice. If he was truly a writer, his hiatus would not last long.
He’d see some strange sight, or hear a curious phrase, or imagine an intriguing person, place, or event, and he’d feel his fingers twitch. The conversations of old characters and the unfinished plots of abandoned works would haunt him like ghosts on Christmas, and he would crawl pleadingly back to his sole solace.
Suddenly, the pen would be back in his hand, and he’d be cursing again whatever cruel fate led him to this admirable and abominable vocation.
That’s how it is for him, and for me as well. I imagine it’s that way for a lot of writers, though I cannot be sure.
The pen—or the keyboard these days—is truly a magical thing. It can conjure into reality the wildest dreams and the most dreadful nightmares. It can be the starting point of a whole new life, a new love… a new world.
I write, simply, because I know of nothing else to do.
-Brad OH Inc.