Why do we write?

For me, as for many writers, it’s because we love to write. Simple answer, but sometimes simple is best. For many of us, we’ve written all our lives. Whether that’s pen to paper, pupils dilated from the computer screen, or simply inside our over active minds, we find a way and means to create stories out of the bits of life that float around us each day. We could not conceive of a world where we do not write.

It would be great if it ended there.

There are no expectations or desires in that simple need to create stories. It would be enough to simply write. If my desire to write were as simple as “because I write,” life would be infinitely easier for me.

Instead, I tie myself to a need to publish my stories. And with publishing them, I acknowledge a desire to let others read them. And by letting others read them, I admit to hoping they will enjoy them. And in hoping they enjoy them, I cop to an understanding that I crave their approval of my work.


Wanting approval has been a monster all my life. Low self esteem will do that to a human being. You crave validation in all things you do. Whether it’s your day job, or your relationships, or the art you create, you seek acknowledgement of your existence. Of your worth.

Now this is no longer about writing. We’ve gone beyond that. This is about mental health and trauma. About your monsters and how you manage them. My own monsters ruled my life for many years. Even now, they nip at my heels, held at bay by therapy, understanding, and a few decades of learning how to control them. Learning how to live comfortably in my own skin. Accepting my goblins, my quirks, my weirdness.

For example, I make weird noises. When I’m in a good mood, sounds burble out of me, usually in conjunction with some daydream I’m having. Over the years I’ve had to hold them in. I was mocked for them in middle school and learned to keep them quietly held inside. But working from home as I am now, I let myself chirp and chortle and bzzzzt and fill my world with sound effects.

Another example. When I’m talking to my wife, I sometimes randomly repeat her words back to her. I don’t do it to annoy her. I hardly realize I’m doing it at all. I’m just some weird entourage thing, like I’m her cohort and I prop her up with repetition. She points it out from time to time, but so far she doesn’t seem to find it too annoying.

A third example: I suffer from moderate social anxiety disorder. I can mask it and control it, but almost every interaction I have with another human being – friend, family, my children – is fraught with discomfort for me. I have difficulty controlling my fear of embarrassing myself in every interaction. Group parties are especially hard for me because too many conversations going on at once are distracting. So, staying home is preferred, and interacting at a distance or when I have time to think and consider my response (email for example) works best for me.

And I want to be a published author.

Which, really, works great for me! Writing is very much a private activity. There are few cases (co-writing comes to mind) where you are working closely with someone else. You can do it anywhere, so you don’t need to live in a crowded city. It’s peaceful for me. My mind is never more clear than when I’m writing. I’m never more sure of myself than when I’m putting words on pages.

It’s all the rest I struggle with. Because I do crave validation. I crave the random email saying “I loved your story.” Or the moment someone picks one as one of their “links of the week.” Or their favorite of the year. I would be thrilled to see a story nominated for some award (sometimes I’m sure I’d like the nomination MORE than a win, but that’s a whole other bag of mind weasels I need to consider). And those things are not easy for me because they require me to be in the public, interacting, getting to know folks.

Which, as I’ve just pointed out, scares the piss out of me almost literally.

None of which is going to help you. I mean, maybe if you’re a new writer and you’ve enjoyed my stories and you suffer from some of the same social anxiety I feel, uncomfortable in your own skin and your own weirdness, you’ll see yourself in this. You’ll realize “well fuck, if that weirdo can do it, so can I!” If that’s all that happens, this blog post will have accomplished its goal. Because I don’t expect anything from this. I just hope someone reads it, and it touches them in some way.

That is the expectation.

You’re worthy. Go forth and write and share it with us and fear not that your weird will bother us. We have our own weirds to deal with, and we will admire and respect the weird that you bring to the world. Expect nothing less.

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