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Why We Write
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Mark Terry has an interesting entry, Writing Fiction and Selling Shoes , quoting Lawrence Block at length about why we wretched writers write. (except to alliterate badly.)

Block says:

"Why do so many of us want so desperately to write fiction? I don't know, and it may not be important to know. If it's important to you, God bless you, and go for it....

"But if it's not important to you, if you think it's important only because it ought to be important, if you're locked into an ill-formed decision you made back in the 11th grade, you might want to take a moment to rethink things. Perhaps the world ought to make a place for shoe salesmen. Perhaps you owe it to yourself to find out what you really and truly want to do."

I've often asked myself why I write fiction. Do I really want to or do I only think I want to because I wanted to when I was in the fifth grade and didn't know any better? I also wanted to hit homeruns for the New York Yankees (and toss off novels in the dugout) but the world has a way of telling most of us that we're not going to be a major league baseball players (or movie stars, or astronauts, or the next Princess of Wales).

Actually, the world tells a lot of us we're not cut out to be writers too, but maybe it isn't quite clear enough. Maybe the world doesn't want to bruise our sensitive artistic souls. "Sorry, this does not meet our present needs" doesn't quite bring it home like striking out ten times in a row against a 35 mile per hour fastball from the neighbor kid who couldn't make the Little League team. Or maybe people who want to be writers just don't pay attention.

Did I form an image of myself as a writer early on? If I can't become an author have I somehow failed to live up to my own idea of who I should be? Probably not. I maintained an equal interest in visual art for years. (Hey....cartoons are visual art!)

But at least I see myself as an artist of some variety. Someone...different...not like everybody else. Of course. Who doesn't see themselves that way? But why tie that feeling of individualism to writing? Like about ten million other creative individualists do?

It might have something to do with the fact that writing is not only an individualistic sort of endeavor -- we don't only announce our uniqueness by doing it -- it also lets us explain in words exactly how we are unique.

Then again it's probably not that either.

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