Why do I do what I do?

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor. Authors across time have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

The thing is, I was never a writer. In many ways, I still don’t think that I am. Neither am I crazy; like I thought I was when this all started.

Let me explain.

Originally, I wrote to get the incessant thoughts and visions out of my head. The same dream just kept repeating, every time I slept. I hoped that if I wrote it down, it would go away and leave me in peace. As I did that, rather than stop the thoughts (although it did remove the first), it just made room for more. I soon realised that I was stuck with the ability to see stories. As time went by I started to see them when I was awake, like an overlay on my life.

I can only compare it to watching a movie (that you’ve never seen before and know nothing about) in your mind. To help me get it all down, I can rewind and slow the action, sometimes I might see a certain part from a different point of view. One thing I can NEVER do is fast forward to see what happens next. I have to experience it in real-time, which also makes it a bit like living.

I’ve had to learn to accept that the only way to get any peace is to describe what was happening in words, write what I see down exactly as I see it. Never knowing what was about to occur.

Typing with eyes on the keyboard whilst watching a film in your head means that you don’t really get a sense of what you’ve written until you stop for a break and look up.

At that point, I used to be surprised by what I had typed (with two fingers, one from each hand), how it was so faithful to the vision, how in some places it was more than I had seen.

After so long, I’m more used to it now. Because I never know what my characters will do next, I experience the story in the same way that a reader will. I get the twist, the denouement, at the same time as they do. If you’ve read the books, you’ll know that some of them are pretty mind-blowing. I got the same sense of shock seeing and writing it as I hope you will when you read it.

This also explains why I write in different genres. Why I don’t write a single series. Instead, I flit from story to story. When people ask me why I can’t stick to one thing, I respond by reminding them that I don’t actually write, apart from the physical act of typing. I merely copy what I’m shown. I have as little control over the things I see as it’s possible to have.

I’m just the conduit that transfers them from wherever they originate to the document stored on my hard drive. So, if whoever is passing me the source material today wants to show me Sci-fi, I’ll write that. If it’s Steampunk or Andorra Pett or the fantasy world of the Syk’m, away we go. Show me the pictures and I’ll write them down. I’ll put my name on it but that’s simply because I don’t know who else to credit.

One day, I’m sure that it will all stop.

Until then, I’m just along for the ride.

For more about why I was never a writer, see this post.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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14 Responses

  1. Sally Cronin

    Thanks for sharing Richard.. definitely a creative compulsion… I understand that others in art and music worlds have a similar need to find a physical outlet for their mind’s determination to create. Excellent post.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you, it can seem like a blessing or a curse, depending on when it strikes. But the journey…..

  2. P.J. MacLayne

    You’ve got a bad case of imposter syndrome, Richard, only in your case you don’t think you’re a writer when clearly you are!

    • Richard Dee

      If you’d have met me before all this started, you would know that, back then, I had trouble stringing two words together.

  3. Stevie Turner

    This has a slightly supernatural feel to it. I am reminded of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ when he said he was visited by angels and wrote it all in one week.

    • Richard Dee

      I can relate, maybe not angels but I firmly believe that someone is pushing my pen (or fingers on the keyboard).

  4. Stephen A. Bungay

    Thinking of it as you’ve explained it, and seeing that last about putting your name on it because you don’t know who else to credit, sounds like imposter syndrome. Even if it isn’t all you, you’re mind is putting together past thoughts and experiences, weaving stories for the world to discover and read or listen to.

    • Richard Dee

      I have had a hard job convincing people who knew me then that this is what I now do.

    • Richard Dee

      I must, if only to retain a tenuous grip on reality.

  5. Daryl Devore

    I also write the movies I see in my head. I’ve mentioned that to other writers and got a weird look – so I thought it was an unusual trait. Glad it works so well for you.

    • Richard Dee

      There do seem to be more of us that work that way, it’s a relief.

  6. Astrid

    Love your description of how you got to write. I imagine it must feel like both a blessing and a curse at times.

    • Richard Dee

      Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. You’re right, there are days when my plans have to change, because I must write down what I see.

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