Earlier today a friend of mine who writes because he loves to and also because he likes being paid for it confessed that he’s lost a little bit of his zeal for writing in recent times. More than anything it’s the writing he’s being paid for that’s been slowly sapping him of his joy. The finer details of why don’t matter for our purposes, but the long and short of it boils down to the writing he’s being paid for leaving very little room for him to insert himself into the pieces. They want facts, quotes, and for readers to stay focused on a particular subject — typical journalistic standards. And that’s all well and good, it’s just not particularly fun for him. While I’ve never been paid to write (at least not with actual cash) I can relate to this issue.
Most of the time I don’t write to talk about all of the stuff and the things. For example, I love beer and I’ve written about it many times before. But I don’t have a whole lot to say about on the topic if I’m not also inserting a little bit of my own personal experience into the story. It’s the reason basic beer reviews are the worst thing on planet earth to read and write. I don’t care what you smell when you stick your face in a glass. Nor do I care what you taste. I want you to tell me about the people you were with while you were drinking the beer. Tell me a funny story that the beer label conjured up when you first looked at the bottle. By all means tell me about the beer but do it while I’m getting to know you. It’s the author that interests me. I want to know your story so much more than a bunch of well written facts.
And that’s why I write. In the real world I’m a pretty quiet person who doesn’t share much of himself but with a few select people. It’s not natural for me to stand up in the middle of a room to put myself on display. But find me behind a keyboard and there isn’t a shy bone in my body. That’s where I’m free to share myself with the world and you get to know me while I’m learning about myself. That’s why I write. It’s pretty much the only reason I write.