Every morning I take my dog for a walk. Quite frequently we run into an older gentleman who is quite fond of the stupid dog, always pets him, always makes a fuss over him. Now, my dog is an idiot. He’s actually fairly smart, but he’s also the most needy, obsessive, contact obsessed little neurotic mess in the world. It all comes down to his exuberant and excessive love of people. This older man feeds that obsessive need more than anybody else (with the possible exception of the teenage girl who lives in the duplex near the corner). He will speed up his walk to catch up to us, and playing his part, dog will dig his four feet into the ground, resisting any attempts to continue on our way, until the old man reaches us.
Because of all of this I have started talking to the old man quite frequently. He’s a nice fellow, with all kinds of stories to tell. Recently I discovered that he went to school with my ex’s mother… anyway, today he talked about how he didn’t like reading when he was in school. I told him that I was a writer. He asked me if I would still write if there was no money in it. Of course I said that there wasn’t any money in it, that I have made less than five dollars off my fiction total. While I hope that number changes, I’m not exactly counting on it for all of my future prosperity. He then asked why I wrote.
In the moment I gave a flippant answer, but then I thought about it.
I have always loved stories, as far back as I can remember. My mother used to read to me, and eventually I learned to read for myself. I was hooked. It was my primary source of entertainment growing up, and I prefer it to television (although lately it has gone somewhat by the wayside, and my TV consumption has increased, for a variety of reasons). I also loved to play pretend, to get friends together and create stories that we would act out. Eventually I found Role Playing Games, and that was where I put that creative world building energy. I designed games, came up with worlds, came up with stories.
I also wrote – all the time. I wrote poetry, short stories, anything that allowed me to put those stories in my head down on paper. Thing is, even if I don’t write the stories down, they still play out in my head, a constant running narrative. I close my eyes, even for an instant, even just to blink, and I see the stories being acted out in technicolor.
In short, the stories are a core part of who I am. I can’t turn them off, wouldn’t even know how to start turning them off. I write because I like the stories in my head, because I want to record them, and because I want to share them with others. I also write because I have no choice. The closest I can come is to not share my writing with the world – that was the path I took for most of my life.