I make music (both performing and writing bass lines to songs), I am an actor (on stage and in front of camera), I write (scientific, poetic, bloggic, novelic, and more). I am not the only one who is creative, who likes to be ‘on a stage’, but different people have different needs, especially when it comes to those creative activities. So, what reasons could one have to make music, write, act, sculpt, direct a movie?
Let me stick to writing. For some people, writing is a way to become famous. Write poetry, a novel, essays, and people will know who you are. The only problem is: there are so many writers who publish. Books, blogs, literary journals, newspapers. Fame is hard to achieve. And why is that so important? Does it really make you a better person or artist? When I think about great painters, like Van Gogh, it is clear that they were not famous in their living years. He painted because that’s what Vincent wanted to do. Fame is futile. I could quote thousands about fame, I do one (since, hey, when you quote a famous philosopher, it means that you are clever yourself…):
“Wealth is like sea-water; the more we drink, the thirstier we become; and the same is true of fame.”
Schopenhauer allegedly said that. Or wrote that. Or had that in his mind.
So fame as a reason to write?
Some people want to write because they want to be rich. Earning some or a lot of money is their goal. A itsy bitsy teenie weenie insight on my behalf: becoming rich is only an option for the happy few. Those writers that sell a lot books (or other stuff that is associated with their writing). If you knew how many books are published each day, week, month, year, you probably would not consider writing one yourself. Earning a living? From writing? Good luck.
I have thought about another aspect of writing. The word is communication. Writing a book is about exchanging views, maybe to help others, to make someone happy. Is that really a reason to write? Call me a cynic, but I don’t really think that people who write want to communicate. A fraction of those writers, yes, maybe. But there’s at least one person in the world who doesn’t really care about communicating. If it happens, fine. If not, fine too.
Reason no. 4: interesting insights. Pardon my french, but that’s bull shit. Most people have no interesting insights. At. All. They’re rambling on about the sad, silly trivia of their lives. Period.
No. I have wondered ever I since started writing texts – other than those needed for school – why I write. In the beginning (when I was 11, 12) I wrote letters in German to a girl from Essen (40 years later, I still have her letters, that are written on pink paper and full of hearts and I wonder: what is she doing right now?). I started a journal many moons ago, and I still keep track of my live. I started writing my first novel in college. Since then: more novels, articles, thesis, blogs, poetry, short stories, even a play is in the making.
But why? Why do I write?
One of the writers I follow wrote a blog on art, being an artist and the (non-)importance of pain and struggling.
I have my struggles. Probably like anyone else who wites. But that’s just a small fraction of the overall reason why I write. Actually, I don’t write because I feel pain or because I struggle.
My reason to write is to get rid of those thoughts, stories, puns, and what have you. To make room for peace. And also: to make room for more stories. Which makes it kind of weird: I write to get those stories out of my head, only to fill them with new ones.
Here’s the twist: I want those new stories to be soothing. Alas, in the end most of those new stories in my head are not soothing at all. And they are so many. You loose one story, two or three or more pop up. So, I have to write more stories. Some would say: that sounds therapeutic. Well, if that’s the word, than that’s the case. It’s worse than that, Jim: it’s manic.
I do have another reason to write, though. I want to leave something behind. Something to be remembered for. Something which says: he was alive at some point in the human history. Maybe a sad reason, but that is what keeps me going.
© Rick Ruhland 2018