It is a question I have often asked myself but the urge to write remained a vague yearning until now. I decided to confront this question head-on and allow it to unfold itself little by little until I am sufficiently sure about why I want to write.
I have been a reader since I was a teenager and like most people began with action thrillers, detective fiction, classics and then finally graduated to non-fiction that touched upon many subjects as diverse as environment and spirituality. However, throughout all this period which covered something under two score years, the yearning to write remained like an undercurrent, never coming out in full blast, nor dying out like a burning candle. The urge to write gnawed at my being and now after having lived with it for so long, I want it out. I want to be a writer as well, not just to be content with reading other people’s writings.
Through writing I hope to say things that I cannot do so by speaking. When I speak about something I strongly feel about, very few people allow me talk freely. I am often interrupted and my thoughts lose the thread of what I am talking about. While speaking, I seem to rush with my thoughts for fear of being interrupted and I don’t get a chance to develop my ideas slowly and progressively. It so happens that whenever I speak about something I state conclusions first which perhaps puts people off and I don’t get to defend my conclusions. When I write, I have complete control over what I have to say and in a manner appropriate to the idea I want to put forward. I can take time over it and present my ideas more clearly, cogently and make my point thoroughly.
I want to write perhaps more for being known as a writer than because I have a great many things to say. This is not to affirm that I have very little to say, but once when I start saying about something the words come out on paper better and more easily than from the mouth. It is important to me that I am regarded as a writer for two reasons: It makes me feel that people give more attention to a writer than to someone who has ideas but has not been acknowledged as someone who knows more than the others. I myself regard writers as people with a lot of knowledge about the world and know a lot about people in general. I give more importance to the written word, as most people do, than to something that has been said or overheard casually. Even people who have the knack of talking do not impress me so much as writers do. My aspiration to be a writer is precisely for this reason. That said, I must confess that I have very few things to write about. But that does not deter me from wanting to write and wishing to be known as a writer.
I do have some ideas that I want to write about. I want to write about things that have been generally accepted, which don’t really justify our inordinate acceptance of them. Some myths we live by are among the things I would like to write about. We have accepted symbols of all kinds, from religion to science. This is another idea that I want to pursue and show how they affect us in daily life. I also want to continue this idea into writing itself and reveal through examples the power of the written word. These ideas are beginning to take shape in my mind and the research into them is strengthening my point of view. I am looking forward to writing all these ideas down. I am keeping some notes, writing a little and reading a lot to bring the subjects into focus. So I do have things to say and I am going to write about them.
I am prepared to take the rough road ahead for becoming a writer. In my case, it means taking a path that is entirely different from my current occupation. Most writers have passed through some rigorous writing course, have struggled hard to put pen to paper and have become successful in the end. Very few are gifted and I don’t belong there; nevertheless, I am willing to persevere and not lose any opportunities for writing through hard work. I have set myself some targets like writing every day, writing a thousand words on any topic of interest to me and browsing the books or the web that deal with writing. I may not be able to meet the target every day, but I have determined to undertake this task without fail. I know that I learn things the hard way; they don’t come easy, not for me at least. To change over from my current occupation as a software developer to a full time career in writing demands a great deal of study and work and I am willing to put in as much effort as I must to make the transition a success.
I don’t know much about writing styles, save some vague ideas I picked up from my extensive, though discursive, reading over many years. I wonder what style I must adopt for the kind of things I want to write about. It is becoming clear to me that my temperament and outlook determines the style. I ask myself several questions and found myself wanting in some areas. Am I a serious person? Can I tell a joke? Am I capable of drawing and sustaining another’s attention when I am talking? Do I care about the listener’s sensibility? Am I observant of my surroundings? Am I sensitive to the feelings of another and my own? Can I describe a scene clearly and sufficiently to evoke a response from the reader? I think it is not a matter of copying a style from a book or devising one of my own; but I think style is something that comes out as I write things in my own words and not rely on clichés. The style I think then becomes an expression of my personality. Surely, I couldn’t write a hilarious piece of comedy when I am by temperament a serious person; nor could I present a balanced view of things if my outlook on life were laced with frustration and grouse. So I leave style to express itself through my writing.
I must of course attempt different forms of writing if I want to make a business out of it. There are, I gather, different forms of writing such as the narration, the description and the exposition. A narrative relies heavily on the ability to tell a tale. I don’t know if I can tell a story, though I attempted a couple of short stories. The dialogue presentation is a problem for me; though I think and speak in English most of the time, when it comes to writing a dialogue I get stymied, for getting the right conversational tone is to me extremely difficult. The descriptive form of writing requires a clear depiction of scenes which the user can relate through his or her senses. The writer describes from his observation the many details in the scene which the reader is therefore able to re-construct in his mind: the vividness of a scene described is directly proportional to the visual images evoked in the reader. Am I so observant as to be able to describe something with lucidity? The third form of writing, namely the exposition, demands illustrating my point of view with several examples until the reader is convinced that what I am saying has a value that is worth his or her consideration. It is this last form that I am attempting in my writings now.
I want to make writing as my profession not only because I have some things to say, but also because I want to earn money and live by it. Now there are two things to consider: the things I want to say are not unique in themselves; and writing for money does not mean I will write anything to please the publisher or the casual reader. I cannot write about a thing unless I feel strongly for or against it. I feel I can write only when I feel so. Therefore, I can’t be a mere peddler of words, playing to the gallery, so to speak, just because I need money to live. I want to become a serious professional and write with two things in mind: write creatively and write passionately, giving my point of view unabashedly even if it goes against the current.
I am perhaps somewhat ambitious too, for I think my real worth will be established if I am accepted as a writer. I am terribly concerned about my own worth and I am constantly looking for it in the way people greet me or talk to me. I have perhaps somewhat low esteem of myself and I think it will be a tremendous boost to my ego that I will be after all a writer and nobody will have any business to disparage me or question my worth.
I suppose the topic question has been sufficiently addressed and the raison d’ etre for wanting to write has come out the way I wanted to. I pat my back and say to myself: Onward-ho!