Reason #1: To be activists or advocates
Yesterday I commented on Robert McCrum’s post: Why Writers Make Reluctant Revolutionaries at http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/robert-mccrum-on-books. When I looked up the meaning of revolutionary in Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, I adopted the (c) entry: “constituting or bringing about a major or fundamental change.” Using that definition, I refute Robert’s thesis because authors often lead the charge for change without offering their bodies as barricades. Their characters do that. I have not been the same since I entered the world of an international sweat shop in the shoes of one of Davis Bunn’s characters in The Great Divide. A good story, more often than media images, lures me into reality and onto the path of redemption. Surely, bringing about change is an irrefutable reason to write.
Reason #2: To make a career of doing what seems most natural
If we don’t do what we love, we risk doing nothing or even worse, doing something very poorly. For those who know writing is their talent, it would be reckless to ignore it. But what if we don’t know? Carl Jung wrote in The Stages of Life, “We limit ourselves to the attainable, and this means the renunciation of all other potentialities.” People with potential who don’t believe they can demonstrate a level of competence similar to [insert your favorite author/book title] may never write anything not required. Ignoring the inner impulses, they work abnormally hard or hardly work; either option subdues lasting satisfaction. Surely, using natural ability is an honorable reason to write.
Reason #3: To become famous and leave a legacy
Becoming famous may or may not be concurrent with making a lot of money. Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, tells her students that becoming a better writer leads to the pay-off of becoming a better reader. Most want more than that; they want to be published. Even putting aside the money issue (the pot of gold has already been found by J. K. Rowling), most of us would like to be fondly remembered after we leave this world. Wouldn’t a best-seller or two do that? But wouldn’t our significance be assured by living our lives treating others as we wish to be treated? Surely, becoming famous is a popular, but defective reason to write.
Reason #4: Because someone else pushed us to achieve their dream.
Surely, doing it to please others is not a reason to write.