Monday, June 28, 2021

Why do you write fiction?


Yesterday’s post seems to have touched a nerve, so let’s continue with the line of introspective questioning. We’ve established that you want to write; perhaps even that you need to write. (You’d be surprised by how many successful writers answer the question of why they write with something on the order of, “I can’t not write.”) We’ll assume for the moment that you have some talent for writing, or at least that you’re trainable.

Next question: why do you want to write fiction?

There is a world full of opportunities out there for people with above-average verbal communication skills. For example, my training is in newspaper journalism, although I’ve never actually worked in the field. Internships, I think, come at the wrong end of education programs: by the time I finished my internship as a reporter I realized that there was no way I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing that, and quickly switched over to technical communications. So while I am known as a science fiction writer, I have actually spent most of the past 40 years writing enormous amounts of highly technical nonfiction, for which I rarely received bylines, but in general, for which I was paid very well.

So to reiterate the question: of all the things that you could do with your ability to express yourself in words, why do you want to write fiction? 

Submitted for your consideration,


Arisia said...

All that code I wrote was highly technical nonfiction? I like that.

Henry said...

I write fiction to escape from the real world, and because writing is cheaper than therapy. Writing is also a lot more fun than therapy. Or so I've heard.

Mark Keigley said...

I write fiction because I can get off the road less traveled and muck about in some really weird head spaces for a time, if I want. If I tried to write technically , it would be weird mucky stuff where I'm trying to solve a problem. In fiction, I can EXPLORE solutions to solving problems. Yes, I do think outside the box at times. But that thinking space can be very scary for some folks.

Roxana Arama said...

I love, love, love reading nonfiction, but I don't have the expertise to write it myself. Being a parent of young children, I don't have the flexibility to go on research trips to do, for instance, biblical archeology, which I’m fascinated with. Or, I'd love to work in a neuroscience lab, but I don't see a path to getting there. So I read what other people write and then I concoct my own worlds based on their work. Many people might not be open to reading tomes on neuroscience, but they'd like to read a cool story about the emergence of androids and their struggles to coexist with humans. I could write that. Fiction gives me permission to be inexact while also allowing me to widen my horizons through research. Plus, once we get to the messy realm of emotions, desires, betrayals, I have a lot of fun navigating it for myself and for potential readers.

GuyStewart said...

I've combined both -- as a science teacher and a school counselor, I've written tens of thousands of word of curriculum, for my own classroom, my building, district, and even occasionally for state and national programs. The fiction is my...I supposed angel food cake with strawberries, and a cold mound of spray whipped cream. I write curriculum because, as you noted, "I got paid LOTS of money"; I write essays just because I love them; I write non-fiction on my Breast Cancer and Alzheimer's blog (my wife had BC, my dad, A) to inform -- and as a cheap therapy -- because I have the science background to translate complex medical processes into lay-person's English. SO I write lots of stuff - but FICTION is my dessert!

Arisia said...

Because I enjoy fiction more than non-fiction. If I'm going to spend thousands of hours on something, I want to enjoy it.

I did enjoy writing code. And reading code to find what was causing errors. I did NOT enjoy meetings and stupid paperwork.