Saturday, October 15, 2011

There's Someone in my Head, but It's not Me

Occasionally, we all run into this question: "Why do you write?"

The sort answer is "because I have to." That's a little too mystical, though.  Or pretentious. Or Schizophrenic. "I write because the voices in my head tell me to".  Yeah, sure lady. Did you stop taking your Thorazine because you didn't like how it made you feel?

So, a longer winded answer is in order.

Most writing, and storytelling, and creation, I think comes from imitation. When I was little, I really loved the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters.  I made up episodes of the show in which they got a dog, who helped them find ghosts (his name was Fido). I have at least one tape on which I recorded these episodes, theme song and all. It's hilarious, and excruciating, all at once! My family must have been so proud.

As I got a little older, I read a lot of books. This will be a common theme. Once I read Call of the Wild and White Fang, I started writing my own "person taming wolves in the Yukon, with Indians" book, The Twin Wolves. It, like my high school fantasy novel, has not survived to the present day. But I was learning.

You know how sometimes you  might see something strange, or see a stranger every day, in their every day routine as you're doing yours, and you think, "I wonder"? That, for me, is what writing is. I see a wicker chair in the bushes next to a highway, and I think "I wonder...." I see a man with a cut on his head buying Band-Aids, generic first aid cream, and rubbing alcohol, and I think "I wonder...." I inadvertently discover that you can buy haunted things on eBay, and I think "I wonder..." (and Joe Hill clearly also did; go read Heart Shaped Box. Mine isn't done yet).

I hear a peculiar name, or learn about a landmark I'd never before heard about, and a lot of the times,  bit of a story spins itself in my head. Sometimes it doesn't. If I don't write it down, though, I regret it. It's like losing a quarter you wanted to use in one of the machines in the grocery store. It's like missing a phone call from a friend. It's forgetting that wonderful dream you were having as soon as you open your eyes.

So that's why I write. It's because I have to.

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