Monday, February 05, 2007

I got into a discussion with Catherine last week about the creative process (over on my LJ mirror of this blog.) It got her thinking and her answer was fascinating: she loves to act, to pretend she's someone else – for a variety of reasons. She found that traditional acting wasn't for her, so she writes and does a lot of cosplay. What fascinated me most was when she said that, "when I write, I am the characters that I write…I climb into their heads, feel their emotions, go through what they do, and it's the biggest adrenaline rush on the freakin' planet…I am dramatis personae, the entire cast list. I listen to them, but they're also like this mask that I put on."

That really got me thinking. Why do I write? Fiction is something I took up only about five years ago, so it hasn't been a lifelong hobby or impulse. Though, like Catherine, I can't not do it – now that I've started, I can't stop. I feel more like me, more centered, when I'm writing – during the time I'm actually sitting there, and in general when I'm working on something. So, that's the amorphous answer: because I have to.

But when I get into the nitty gritty, I realized a few things. I love a challenge and I love to be challenged. Writing, especially novels, is a huge challenge – it's like a jigsaw puzzle, and you don't have all of the pieces when you start, and you only have a vague idea how it's supposed to turn out. Plus, I love people and I am fascinated by psychology – I've flirted with the idea of becoming a therapist about once a year. So delving into motivations and imagining characters' interactions is fascinating. And while characters are real, they're also not going to cut you off on the freeway and fuck with your Zen. So I like to hang out with them.

And, of course, I love that high, that feeling of going with the flow, when whole paragraphs come out and you look back and go, "Whoa. Where did that come from?" You know you're flowing with your higher self and your connection to the universe. It's addictive.

So for you writers out there: why do you continue to write? What drives you? What feeds your soul about it, and what challenges your brain? And for those of you who do visual art, or music, or other creative endeavors – the same questions apply.

quasation: a shaking or concussion

Myths, symbols, and folklore
ecstasy: "In many cultures it was closely connected with harvest rites and prayers for fertility. Because it creates the ability to transcend the bounds of everyday consciousness, the ecstasy achieved through dance, music, alcohol, or drugs is considered to be an expression of special connectedness to God." (Herder)


  1. You know, I used to think I knew why I wrote. Now I don't know nothin'.

  2. It's the fame and fortune. The paths strewn with rose petals, and, uh...yeah. Never mind. :)