Why write?

Why do writers write? The answers to this question have already become cliched, but I’m not so much interested in why they say they write, as in why they apparently write, which is a very different matter.

By the way, none of these categories cut along the same seam as the “fiction / nonfiction” distinction.

1. A love of words, phrases, and sentence-crafting. This is the person who enjoys working on one sentence for an hour. Many of these are drawn toward poetry, but not enough are. These do not need to get from A to B – in fact, they need to sit on A as long as possible.

2. A need to complain, or debunk the world. Father was not there, and the crap that is the world must be called “crap” over and over forever, in revenge. This is the essence of modernity,

3. A desire to see deeper — either deeper into the self or into the world, and this self/world distinction breaks down, at depths.

4. The didacts. All the arguers and explainers. This is not the same as #2 — these folks just have something to say, and try to say it well.

5. Joy in a good plot. The storytellers, who love to pose a situation, make some trouble, then solve it.

6. A need to say something — anything — intelligent. Not the same as #4; these people have nothing in particular they think needs saying except that they say things well. Many 1,000 page novels have been labeled “experimental” or “avant-garde”, when they were just under-employed IQ ohms arcing at random into the public air.

7. A need to exist. These are the coffeehouse writers, who emit 20 longhand pages a day, and who have 50 words for “sad”.

8. A need to capture a story that will disappear unless it is memorialized. The historians of all kinds, whether personal or academic.

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