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Why Do Writers Write?

Why do writers write? Writers start writing in solitude but once the work is done writers wish for their words to be read and shared with the public at large. Annie Proulx said, “a book is not finished until it has been read,” getting attention from the public is what authors are craving for. So, when someone in the social media sphere is flashing the spotlight on you, you say, “thank you baby, so glad for the opportunity.”

This week began quite well; it started with an Instagram post from @WOCwritetoo (Women of Color Write Too), shining the spotlight on my work alongside that of three other lovely WOC writers. This made me think about why writers write; and as it often happens these days, I can’t spend time thinking about something without having to write about it! So, in true writer’s style, I decided to put my thoughts on paper and share it with you.

Author Spotlight

Do Writers Write For Money?

Every writer has their own unique narrative behind the reasons they write. One day they decided to sit at their desk and write a piece to be shared with the public. By typing frantically on their laptop they are taking a leap of faith deciding to enter the ‘literary arena’, not knowing what will be waiting for them once they step foot inside. Will their readers be gracious or vicious? Picture Russell Crowe in the movie ‘Gladiator’ entering the arena for his first fight.    

Question: Why do writers write?
Answer: Because they want to.

That’s it. Problem solved.  Sure, you can look at this question in a very superficial kind of way and leave it at that, but I wanted to dig a bit deeper. So, I went to investigate if I could find any meaningful and less brisk type of answers to this question.

According to Dr. Lawrence R. Samuel (Ph.D Psychology), the psychology behind the pursuit of literary life is not precisely clear. With rejection and criticism so much part of the literary experience and the fact that the income of the average American writer hovers around the poverty line, one has to wonder if writers have a streak of masochism in their genetic makeup to choose it as their profession. 

Why would anyone consent to the emotional, financial, spiritual and even physical contortions that are necessary in order to lead a writer’s life? It can’t be about the money. In addition, much patience is required to receive any form of external reward from writing as reviews and royalties typically come long after the book is launched.

An interesting answer comes directly from a Professor of psychology who tells us that it is definitely not for money that writers write. I am guessing that he is talking about the type of writers that haven’t yet made it to the New York Times Best Selling Authors’ list. You see, there are two types of writers in this world: Type 1: the Best-Selling-Author-Type such as JK Rowling, Paulo Coelho, Stephen King, Mark Manson, Robert Green, Malcolm Gladwell, etc. … and then you have the Type 2:  the Working-Hard-To-Get-There-Type. If you are a writer who is reading this and happen to fall into the second category, don’t fret, let that Envy-Syndrome that you have towards the first category of writers run through you, and then move on and find solace in the fact that there are plenty of reasons – that are not financial – why writers write.

Why Do Writers Write?

So, Why Do Writers Write?

So, Why Do Writers Write? For Posterity, Legacy or some other reasons?

All of the above, and for some other good reasons below:

Sharing: At a basic level, writing is about someone sharing something with someone else, making connection a key component of the pursuit. The possibility that a book can be deeply moving or at least interesting and informative to a reader is a prime motivation for writers to keep on writing.

Creativity: through their work writers have the potential of having a bond with far more people than they can in real life, a perspective that recast writing from its accepted view as solitary and lonely exercise. From an expression of individual creativity, it shifts to a builder of relationships.

Liberation: Writing is a liberating force and something that is instrumental in allowing writers to be all they can be.

Therapy: Writing can also serve as a therapeutic release and many authors find their profession to be an ideal mean of maintaining a sense of psychological well-being.

Meaning:  Writing is a search for something meaningful, a longing to create something of value.  There is an intimate relationship between the writer and the reader. The writer makes the first move and takes the first leap of faith, releasing their inner makings to the world for all to see. There is a great risk when it comes to writing, releasing content freely and openly. Content can be received graciously and given applause or simply dismembered and torn apart by readers and reviewers.  Writing is a journey with its unique ups and down.

Exploration:  Writing takes you out of your comfort zone. It is the push, the striving, the discomfort. Writers write because it pushes then beyond the barriers of everyday existence into a world of what might be. A world of opportunity. An infinite variety of maybes and ‘what-ifs‘. A vast plain of words that might describe the world in which we live. For a writer, no two days are the same. The path may not always be smooth and predictable, but here are always new sights to see. There is always more to explore. Like any great journey, writing is full of its ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like a roller coaster; other times it is like riding a donkey. It is an isolated but far from lonely experience. With our words and fellow travelers to keep us company, adventure lurks around every corner. Writing can never be a waste of time because it takes you to places you would never go. There is a lot more to the writing life than what we earn, or don’t earn. Writing is not done for money, it is for those moments when we choose to step into discomfort that our stories begin to be interesting. Being away from your routine and placing yourself in a strange environment is challenging. Each moment is full of excitement and anticipation about what could happen next. It is not about the destination; it is about the journey. Johanna Castro.

I Didn’t Decide to Be a Writer I Discovered I Was One

For me, there are three people that best embodied the reasons why I unexpectedly found myself wearing the shoes of a writer: James, Baldwin, Maya Angelou (whom my eldest daughter is named after) and Toni Morrison.

The American Poet and author James Baldwin said, “You cannot underestimate the importance of writing. Writers describe things which other people are too busy to describe. I didn’t decide to become a writer, I discovered I was one.” 

Maya Angelou, There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Toni Morrison, “If there is a book that you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it!’ This is how I got to write my book ‘This Is Your Quest’. I could not find anywhere a book that gathered in one place all the key subjects I was interested in; a book that will inspire me but challenge me all the same, a book that will breath hope into me when I am feeling down, a book that could educate, heal and illuminate the mind. I am not an academic, a psychologist or an anthropologist. I am neither a scientist nor an economist. I am just an observer, a thinker. I am curious about the world and I am curious about people.  I write because I have a desire to explore the ins and out of what matters to dig deep on subjects and then bring it to the surface and show its significance to all the curious souls out there.

Best advice I ever received

This is Your Quest

Below is an extract from the Preface of my book: 

I have to admit; I am stepping outside my own comfort zone by writing this book. I am venturing into territory totally unfamiliar to me, not knowing in advance where this adventure will take me and how it all might unfold; but I am prepared. My curiosity and sense of adventure are stronger than my fear. I must remind myself: what is the worst that can happen? That, once written, my book doesn’t attract much attention and disappears into the “oubliettes? Writing this book, however, is first and foremost a gift to myself. Of course, I would rather it be that my book finds an audience and makes an impact, but whatever its success, I believe writing it is an experience worth having and have enjoyed the process of putting my thoughts onto paper.

Joanne Reed – Author of ‘This Is Your Quest

It is also possible that this book attracts attention, but of the negative sort. I am willing to accept the fact that any author might have their work scrutinized by critics, who have the power to put it on a pedestal or drag it down into the mud. My perspective on this is best summarized by David Schlosser who said, “the only writer to whom I should compare myself is the writer I was yesterday. It is much easier to be a critic than an artist. It is easier to destroy than to build. Before you criticize someone’s work, try to be an artist first. With this said, the best person to describe my own sentiment about critics is Theodore Roosevelt who rightly stated, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotion; who spends himself on a worthy cause; who at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

This is Your Quest is a book that will inspire you but will also challenge you. It is not for the fainthearted. When I wrote the book, I felt more than once that I was on a ‘slippery slope‘ but kept writing because I made it my Quest to take the path ‘less traveled by,‘ and hope for you, as it has for me, that it ‘makes all the difference.’


So my dear friend, I have written my book but it will not be finished until you have read it!


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For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

Categories
Self-Help

How to Have Superpowers and Remain Resolutely Human.

Superpowers

How to have superpowers? Galileo said: “Books are our sole means of having superhuman powers while remaining resolutely human. The power of traversing the abysses of space, time, and misunderstanding that gap between our own life, our own self, our own subjective experience and another‘s.”

Happy National Book Lovers Day

National Book Lovers Day

August 9th is National Book Lovers Day. This gives me the perfect excuse to tell you something that you may already know but have forgotten or taken for granted. For this occasion, I organized a round table discussion with some renowned authors, Neil Gaiman, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison (RIP) in order to gather their thoughts on the importance of reading books and the role of writers in society.

The Importance of Books

Author Joanne Reed, “Neil Gaiman; you feel very strongly about the importance of reading and believe our future depends on it. Why is reading so important?”

Neil Gaiman, “Books are the way that we communicate with the dead, the way we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, it is the way the humanity has built itself and progresses. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have outlasted cultures and the buildings in which they were first told. These tales have survived on the shoulders of story-tellers and people who have transmitted them forward.”

James Baldwin: “For me, books are a way to change one’s destiny.”

Author Joanne Reed, “Interesting; throughout history, access to knowledge and education was the monopoly of a very few. Literacy was inaccessible to most and prohibited to many, i.e. serfs, women and slaves, to keep them in a state of servitude and ignorance. Knowledge is power; the ruling classes kept serfs uneducated by design so they could successfully rule over them. Under the feudal system women too had little or no chance of attaining education. In a few cases, girls from upper-class backgrounds enjoyed the benefits of education as there were certain obligation for women of nobility that required them to be literate; but whatever education women had access to was purely designed to help them marry well, or to become a good wife and mother. In the USA, slaves were prohibited by law to read and write. Slave masters understood that control over slaves could not be based solely on physical coercion and it was also understood that literate slaves would eventually demand the same rights that whites enjoyed; I discuss this in Chapter 7 of my book.

James Baldwin: “You cannot underestimate the importance of writing. Writers describe things which other people are too busy to describe. I didn’t decide to become a writer I discovered I was one.”

Neil Gaiman, “Writers have an obligation to write true things. Truth is not in what happens but in what it tells us about who we are. Writers have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader is after all a tale they cannot stop themselves reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them arms and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation to not preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our reader’s throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots.”

Toni Morrison, “I agree but wish to add, that if there is a book you want to read that hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one who writes it.”

Toni Morrison (1931 – 2019)

Author Joanne Reed, “Exactly, I always wanted to read a book that inspires and challenges me, a book about important subjects like love, money, and health in an educational and fun to read way; a book that contains a treasure trove of wisdom gathered from people who succeeded in their own Quests, where I can learn lessons from history and can have conversation with philosophers. I never found such a book, so decided to follow the advice of Toni Morrison and wrote the book myself!”

Superpowers Conclusion

I would like to thank my guests for agreeing to participate. In closing, for National Book Lover’s Day, I hope this discussion has reminded you of the power of knowledge and to help appreciate the story teller’s contribution to this art. Books don’t write themselves, and books are how to have superpowers!

Words have tremendous energy and power, they have the ability to educate, to help, to heal, to illuminate the minds.

“Books are our sole means of having superhuman powers while remaining resolutely human.”


If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.

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About the Book

#1 Spot! Sweet! Thank you to my French readers for keeping me there!

Thank you to my French readers! The American Poet and writer James Baldwin said, “you don’t decide to become a writer, you discover you are one.” This is exactly what happened to me!

Thank you to all my readers!

Baldwin also said, “the importance of a writer is to describe things which other people are too busy to describe.”

I became an author because I had things to say. Words have tremendous energy and power, they have the ability to educate, to help, to heal, to illuminate minds and I hope that my book will do a little of that.

After my initial surprise success, I would like to thank my French readers for keeping me in the #1 spot in two categories on Amazon France; Self-help and Longevity. For all of those who purchased my book, welcome on board and hope you are enjoying an epic adventure! Please feel free to leave me some reviews when you have finished reading. For those who are wondering which book to read next, can I suggest mine?!

Sales Rankings on Amazon France

Word of caution: “One must always be careful of books and what is inside them for words have the power to change us”. The future belongs to the curious, those who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke it, question it – over to you.

 Version Française

Le poète et écrivain américain James Baldwin a dit : “Tu ne décides pas de devenir écrivain, tu découvres que tu l’es.” C’est exactement ce qui m’est arrivé !

Baldwin a aussi dit, “l’importance d’un écrivain est de décrire des choses que les autres sont trop occupés à décrire.”

Je suis devenu auteur parce que j’avais des choses à dire. Les mots ont une énergie et un pouvoir extraordinaires, ils ont la capacité d’éduquer, d’aider, de guérir, d’illuminer les esprits et j’espère que mon livre en fera autant.

J’aimerais remercier mes lecteurs français de m’avoir maintenu au premier rang dans deux catégories d’Amazon France : Développement Personnel et Longévité. Pour tous ceux qui l’ont acheté , bienvenue à bord, j’espère que vous vivez une aventure épique ! N’hésitez pas à me laisser des commentaires quand vous aurez fini de le lire . Pour ceux qui se demandent quel sera mon prochain livre, puis-je suggérer le mien ?!

Mise en garde : “Il faut toujours faire attention aux livres et à ce qu’ils contiennent, car les mots ont le pouvoir de nous changer“. L’avenir appartient aux curieux, à ceux qui n’ont pas peur d’essayer, d’explorer, de s’interroger . Etes-vous curieux?


If you liked this post you can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, or you may also like:

For more on this subject you can purchase my book This is Your Quest online at BookLocker, from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble.  The Ebook version is available on Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Apple (iBooks) & Kobo. Check out my Amazon Author Page here or my listing on Booksradar.com.