Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Why Do We Write?
Juancho, over at the Big Ring Circus, is having a crisis of faith.
He's not sure what direction he wants to take in his blog and he's thinking of ending it.
I say, "Pshaw!"
Well, I'd say that if I could pronounce it.
Juancho can't quit blogging and I'll tell you why:
He's a writer.
As many have pointed out, no matter what he writes about on that extremely popular blog of his, whether it's a specific bike trail or an incident in a convenience store or an experience he's had in a church, the man writes what we want to read.
Why does Juancho write? You might as well ask why Juancho rides.
Oh sure. He's staying fit and healthy by riding. He sometimes rides with others and probably enjoys the company. He sometimes rides alone and I imagine he works through things he's struggling with in his very stressful occupation. Or in his life.
He rides for all of these reasons.
And because he can.
You know what? I'm making all this shit up. I have no idea why Juancho writes, much less why he rides.
Because I only know why I write and I'm not really so sure about that but I think the answer is:
I have to.
A lot of people have responded to Juancho's crisis of faith by telling him to write a book. Hey! I'm one of them! But I know, as well as Juancho does, that writing a book isn't easy. Almost everyone thinks they themselves could write a book and as Yoko Ono says, "Everyone has a story to tell."
The thing is, that not everyone is capable of telling a story in a fashion that anyone else would want to read.
Only writers can do that.
And only someone who really, really wants to write would.
It's a sort of obsession. It has to be an obsession to make yourself sit down and pour your heart out on the keyboard day after day with no real goal in sight. But the truth of the matter is, when it goes well, the writing, it's a soaring joy. When it goes badly, you want to maybe kill yourself, which is why so many authors drink, probably, not to mention why a notable amount have in fact killed themselves.
It's the agony AND the ecstasy.
There was a column in the paper today about how "real" writers feel when someone like Joe The Plumber or Sarah Palin get a book deal.
The author of the column was too polite to say it but I think what he was thinking was that a writer who spends years and years and years of his or her life struggling with words wants to basically KILL someone like Joe The Plumber when a publishing company forks over big money for some ghost-written pile of crap. That people will buy. That people will read.
Because to get a book published, the agony and ecstasy of writing it is the easy part. The hard part is rolling over on your back and showing the soft underside of your belly to agents and publishers and trying not to pee on yourself with the fear and anxiety and depression of the rejection of your baby- your book, your words, your blood and toil and guts.
There's no logical reason why anyone should put themselves through that sort of punishment.
But a lot of us seem to have to.
I have. And it's a bit like giving birth to a beloved child and having everyone who sees that child say, "Eh, that ain't much of a baby, is it?"
But the blog. Oh, the blog is pure fun. You write the words, you send them out, people read them. No agents, no publishers, no editors. Of course, sometimes an editor might not be such a bad idea.
But it's a training ground, a release, a connection, an invitation to others to share our hearts, our lives, our minds, our ideas, our hopes and dreams and schemes and pain and thoughts and joy.
There are millions of blogs written by millions of bloggers. But let me tell you something- they are not all written by writers.
And the ones that are should be cherished.
Juancho is a splendid writer. And he is cherished far more than he knows, I'm sure.
And I'm not sure why I'm saying all of this today. Maybe because I feel old and my bones ache and I am facing the serious truth that nothing I write may ever get published and if I ever did have a dream beyond healthy kids and love in my life, being published was it.
And in talking about Juancho, I am talking about myself and all the other would-be authors out there who really care about the words they put down and send out.
I heard an interview once with F.X. Toole, the writer who wrote the story that the movie, Million Dollar Baby was based on. His real name was Jerry Boyd and he wrote for most of his life while doing many other jobs to make money, including being a fighter and a trainer. In the interview he said that after a certain number of rejections to his stories, he just quit sending them out and that getting cut up and beat up in the ring was nothing, NOTHING compared to the pain of rejection.
I've never forgotten that.
And I've never forgotten that even if I never get published, I have to write. I have to.
I think Juancho does too.
I hope so, because here's another thing I have to do:
And I sure do like reading what Juancho writes.
Perfect little circle there, don't you think?
Like the shape of the Big Top in a circus.
A Big Ring Circus.
We're all just clowns on this bus, tumbling out of the doors in our big, floppy shoes and our funny red noses, running around in circles, hoping to make people laugh and maybe cry.
You're a good clown, Juancho. You're a good writer. We all trip and fall. We all get up and brush ourselves off and try to make it appear as if it were all part of the act.
And selfishly, I don't want you to get off that bus.
I like your funny nose and your big floppy shoes. I respect them. You give me something to think about even though I'll probably be an astronaut before I ever become a trail rider.
Because you're a writer.
And that picture up there? Well, it has nothing to do with why writers write but dammit, I found it on a one-thing-leads-to-another Google image search and it's just too good not to share.
And yeah, we love you Juancho. Evil, sweet, funny, tired, riding, not riding.
But we can't keep loving you if you quit writing.
As if you could.