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Who are you writing for?

July 4, 2010

This is a question that popped randomly into my mind as I was doing nothing important. These sorts of questions are wont to do that. (What I was doing is irrelevant… fine, I was playing online versions of video games that are older than I am.)

No matter how it came, it struck me. Who am I writing for? Who is anyone writing for?

Someone you admire? Legions of rabid fans that will buy enough books to fund your island retreat? That mean English teacher who told you that you’d never, ever be a novelist, and that if you did manage to scribble something it should be burned before it induced vomiting in innocent browsers?

I’ve always loved writing, but I started taking it (more) seriously almost five years ago. My first novella was written for a friend who passed away. Basically, it was a gift to her memory- something she might’ve enjoyed had she still been around to read it. I was a young teen, and I slaved over this thing. It was handwritten, so I can’t give you an accurate word count, but I’m guessing around 25k. Which seemed like a lot, back then…

Writing for her, I kept going even on the hard days. Researching and writing about a mutual topic of interest made me feel closer to her. Writing for her, I worked through my grief. Writing for her, I actually finished the damn thing. It was the first time I’d completed a novella, and it was  because in a weird way, quitting would disappoint her. I wanted to finish this novella more than anything, to read it to her in my mind and hope she’d somehow hear it.

Looking back, that first novella was pretty bad. But you know what? I wrote it, and I learned an awful lot. Most importantly, I learned I could write every day, and end up with something of fairly substantial length. And I figured I could do it again.

All because of her.

Five years on, and she’s still in the back of my mind as I write. But it’s not just about her anymore. Writing for her sparked the fire, and it’s burned of its own accord ever since. I write for joy, for pleasure. So yes, it is for myself. With Project W, it’s also for my characters, whom I will not abandon to oblivion. While my current projects aren’t written as blatantly for someone, they are all written with acknowledgment and appreciation for the debt I owe. With every “The End” I reach, a murmur of thanks.

So I guess the target of your writing pales in comparison to your motives. Labour of love, or a big screw you?  While I see the appeal and, indeed, the effectiveness of writing for an enemy, I respectfully champion writing for love. Write for love, get love back. It’s got to be healthier for you.

And so, my thanks to her. Thank you for helping me find my words again, and for making sure I use them.

-Arvik

PS. 1047 words on W. We’re getting there…

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