Why Do I Write?

(asking myself makes this a meta-post! Probably)

I’m a creative person. I don’t think it’s narcissistic or inaccurate to say that I like playing around with ideas and forming them into these things called ‘creations’ that other people stare at and derive meaning from. But there’s a disconnect between the ideas that make up a piece of art, and the piece of art itself; in the past I’ve looked at those pieces as wholes, and discussed things like writing technique and forms of literature on this blog, but I’ve never explicitly taken a step back. I’ve never looked at the kind of art versus the original ideas. Essentially, if I am a creative person, why have I chosen to write, as opposed to paint, or draw, or sing?

A lot of it comes from the lack of barriers between written word and thought: the fact that language is not only the tool used to create art, but the tool used to create thought – do it now, try thinking without words, and you’ll see how reliant on language you are – means that turning thought into art is a less convoluted process when I’m writing. If I want to create an ominous setting, I write ‘this was an ominous place’, rather than faffing about with appropriately ominous shades of burgundy when painting a landscape. Part of this is laziness, sure, but a bigger part is that I think my ideas are quite specific and, to be honest, confused. Take my ideas on education – that learning is an inviolable human right but university, in its current format, cannot and should not be made available to everyone in the country – that are simultaneously leftwing and elitist, inclusive and snobbish; I feel like my message comes across if I present this complex stance through words, rather than adding in an extra level of complexity and confusion by introducing additional mechanics like rhyming lyrics or brushstrokes.

Related to this is the fact that I’m a bit of a control freak regarding matters relating to me. Obviously I’m not opposed to debate, or other people to have different ways of looking at my ideas, but I want conversation and interpretation to be based around those ideas, not the medium I use to present them. I can’t control how you respond to a thing I produce, but I can control the thing you see to generate that response, and if a key feature of art is to blast the artist’s ideas though a loudhailer, writing gives me the control that other mediums lack.

But I’m aware that writing is a deeply flawed medium. As well as the social problem that people don’t read shit any more, writing is intrinsically inferior to music in that it lacks a performative element and writers are often devoid of a personality while musicians are encouraged to indulge in theirs; writing has much less of a mass appeal than a painting that anyone can see, and the difficulty of sharing a 600-page tome over a single-sided picture makes writing one of the more elitist of art forms; writing is far less collaborative than acting or directing; and writing can very easily be ignored altogether, unlike larger forms of creativity such as sculpture or even architecture.

So I guess I write not because it’s a good art form, but because it’s the one I’m most comfortable with. I was writing my own comics and gamebooks from when I was about eight, I’ve had poetry and journalism published, I’ve put over 550 posts on this blog alone, and I’ll have written a novel by September. Be it childhood experience, genetics or dumb luck, I have always written, and words are my go-to medium when I’m feeling creative. I can pontificate all day on the importance of spreading one’s internal ideas through the external mediums of art, and weigh their relative flaws and advantages, but I don’t really create for your sake. I don’t create for the sake of making something perfect. I create because the process is deeply satisfying for me, and written creativity is the most therapeutic, empowering form of addiction I know.

In answer to that initial question, then, I write because I think it’s bloody awesome.


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