Monday, February 3, 2014

My Why

I decided to start doing a course on the Lift app to start developing a writing habit, and the first day’s project was to talk about why I want to develop this habit. And to be honest it’s a pretty good question, so here goes.

Why do I want to develop a writing habit?

I suppose that question goes back to why I think writing is important in the first place, and oddly the answer goes back to the men in my family, particularly my father and brother. You see, back when I was a child one of the ways the three of us used to bond was by reading comic strips together. BC and Wizard of Id by Johnny Hart and Brent Parker were favourites, as was Tumbleweeds by Tom K. Ryan. The three of us would lie in bed together and each read a strip in turn from paperback collections, and generally have a great time reading together. In time, I realized that for a man with little formal education my father read quite a lot, and this love of reading was quite infectious.

But for subject matter, it was my brother’s influence that was strongest. He was a great lover of the science fiction and fantasy of the day, writers like Roger Zelazney stand out in my mind especially, as did Tolkien. Of course, siblings being siblings I had to choose authors distinct from his favourites, and at the time that was largely Robert Heinlein, Andre Norton and the earlier Anne McCaffrey books (Harper Hall was such a great series). So right there you had the foundation for a lifetime love of reading.

But that alone couldn’t influence a desire to write instead. And again, that was my brother’s influence. He himself was encouraged by an English teacher to pursue his writing, and in his later years of high school managed to win Honourable Mention in the Canada Permanent writing contest (is that still a thing?) twice running. Sure it doesn’t sound like much, but I thought it was an amazing thing, and despite the usual sibling issues I was pretty proud of him for that. More relevant to the topic at hand, it led me to the notion that not only were there great things to read out there, but it was also a great thing to write those things that others enjoyed so much.

At the time I tried my hand at writing, of course, showing those early, fumbling attempts (and they were pretty bad) to the very same English teacher who’d encouraged my brother. I didn’t take it as far as he did, so contests and such were beyond me, but it felt good to do and that was plenty.

Fast forward about ten years or so, to joining my first online community: The Final Fantasy VII Yaoi Brigade. What a wonderful bunch of loons and boy’s love fanatics those people were. Such fun to chat with, to come up with fantasy pairings with, and most importantly here, to dream up fiction with. That was really my first exposure to the wild and wonderful world of fanfiction, and once again I was driven to not just enjoy the prose, but to join in and create some of it myself.

By now I had matured a bit in my tastes, and while I really hadn’t come to know myself yet, the fics I made were a great deal better than those early fumbling attempts back in high school. In fact, I even wrote a couple of things I could be proud of in those days.

Alas, I didn’t stick with it at the time, and eventually drifted away from the group and from writing in general. But the desire to dream up stories stayed with me, even if only locked up in my own head. So no matter where I went, the ideas rolled around even without expression, and well, everyone’s muse must eventually be obeyed. There’s more to my history, but the essential lesson remains, writing is a thing I want to do and I want to do it well.

So there it is. My why. Why I am what I am, and why I want to get out what I need to get out, and even more why I want to make it into a habit that becomes an ingrained part of my life. Even if it’s not fiction (and I’m considering the journal writing course that’s also on the Lift app as well), it doesn’t really matter. It’s enough that I want to.

No comments: