Writers Just Can’t Resist

26 Oct

Why write? Why would you want to go through the trouble and put forth the effort? For writers, it seems to be not much of a choice. They can’t resist. As author Mark Ribowsky puts it, “writing is not a profession…it’s an obsession.”

I am a professional writing major at Baylor University, and I can relate to what Ribowsky is saying. I cannot fathom going into another field. What other field can you choose your own topic? Engineering only covers engineering. Geology only covers geology. Writing, however, can take you all over the world. You can dip into whatever subject matter you desire. Your topics can range from the life of a penguin to the hardships of a day-job to big city gangs.

The cliché phrase “the sky is the limit” does not apply to writing. Writing gives you the ability to even go beyond this world. In the fantasy genre, you can enter a whole other universe or realm. With these kinds of possibilities, why wouldn’t you become a writer?

It always has  been a dream of mine to create a fantasy series where I can develop extraordinary characters in a brand new world. Yet, across the fantasy genre, and even in vastly different cultures’ literature around the world, there is a similarity of struggles and passions.

Ribowsky puts it nicely when he says, “between music, sports, media, or history I see the same kind of…people; the same instincts, motivations… and the same object lesson.” The core parts of any story are always going to be similar. We are all capable of the same emotions and passions, and it’s those that are used in any good piece of writing.

Joseph Campbell takes this concept even further in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, where he maps out the “hero’s journey”. The “hero’s journey” is a cycle of events many protagonists go through in literature. A shortened version of this cycle is, “a hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder…forces are there encountered…victory is won… the hero comes back from his mysterious adventure and the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” So many protagonists’ stories go through this cycle, and they experience hardship and the same rollercoaster of emotions from utter defeat to triumph (Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and Neo in The Matrix, for instance).

It is these universal experiences, passions, and emotions that spur writers’ imaginations. Author Nalini Singh says her love for writing stems from when she is able to feel “the same wild joy” as her characters when she is writing. Writers often experience life best through the world of their own written word.

I know, for me, writing is being able to say what I otherwise wouldn’t. I have extremely strong opinions on so many things that I want people to know. Yet, in person, I cannot always form my words and make them come out. I get tongue-tied. However, when I’m writing, the feelings and thoughts pour out as the sentences appear on the page. I can go back and revise, making every word and sentence perfect. I write because it provides the necessary outlet for me to communicate to others the way I perceive the world.

-Elisabeth

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