Hold on tight. Reading this post might feel like sailing a punctured life-raft along a stream of consciousness. Don’t worry. It’ll be over soon.
I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how authors label themselves. Authors. Artists. Creatives. Content Creators. Storytellers. Novellists. Poets. But I suppose the label that sticks to all of them is WRITER.
I’ve never actually liked the term ‘writer’. There’s nothing really wrong with it (I’m already aware that I sound pretentious – so bear with me, here), but it isn’t the act of typing or putting pen to paper that draws creatives in to their craft. Most often it’s the physical writing part that puts them off!
We become authors because we tell stories; building them up like houses on the land, complete with functional pipes and electrics and striking wallpaper. We plant seeds in the garden and see what grows. We watch the house age as we’re still building it, and soon appreciate how it all takes on a life of its own, while we marvel at the beauty of crumbling brickwork.
And why do we tell stories? Everyone has their own motivation, but for me it’s about exploring truth through made-up thought experiments. Using drama and character to demonstrate a concept or a speculative turn of events in a way that’s human and emotional. It’s also about connecting with people. When we read a story, we hear the author’s voice through our own voice. How incredible is it that you can connect with total strangers in such an intimate way? In the same way, I love it when I receive messages from people who’ve read and been touched by my poetry or stories, and when they tell me about their personal interpretations.
And of course – authors want to be magicians. Wizards. Witches. Sorcerers. We want to conjure things out of thin air. We want to touch people’s hearts and change people’s minds. We want to escape into our creations to make sense of the world.
While making the final few edits on my first novel, I’ve had to debate some pretty big issues. Are humans inherently selfish? Do we deserve to be saved, considering human nature’s general feeling that we outrank other species? Are we good for the earth? What is more powerful – nature or nurture? And while I don’t necessarily have to answer these questions, the story needs enough prompts for a reader to come to their own conclusions. And this is the part of being an author that I love the most – helping readers to make sense of huge issues, and come to terms with their own feelings about the society we share.
So there you have it. ‘Writing’ is just putting the pen to paper, the fingers to keyboard. Thinking, designing, painting images with words is what we do best, and we’d still share tales around the campfire even if we lived in the days of oral storytelling.
Why do you write? I’d love to hear in the comments. 🙂