It’s a question I pause to ask myself from time to time. When I check, as I do every day, sales of my books, my stats, how many people visited my blog, who’s watching my channel, how many weeks since my last review went up, I ask why? Why keep going? Why do I put myself under so much pressure? Why do I even write? Why do I do it?
A normal person might answer this question quite differently. But then, a normal person might not even ask why in the first place. They would simply give up and stop trying. I’m not a normal person. Anyone who knows me well enough understands this. I’m not normal in the way I act, the things I say, the way I interact and I’m certainly not normal online.
So why do I do this? Why do I keep going even when all the evidence points to failure? Even when I have given up it has never been for very long. I might go away for a while, I have even been known to throw everything out, delete everything (well almost), only to return later, much later in some cases, strangely re-energised, rejuvenated, like my long drained battery has been recharged.
I do this because I can. I do it because I believe it is what I was called to do. I do it because I have stories to tell. Not just random stories, contrived, concocted and forced, tailored to suit a ready audience, but stories from deep within, from a place I return to in my youth, from emotions I experienced and still experience on an almost daily basis. I do this to fill a vacuum left by the relentless mental anguish caused by the abuse of those around me. I do this because the essential narrative of each story is greater than the sum of all my books. I do this because I feel a great and powerful need to put myself out there, to push the internal monologue of the child within into the collective conscience of the world of readers. I do this not out of some misguided sense of self indulgent and ultimately empty desire, but because my story is far more important than anything else I could do or say. I do this because I have to do it.
And so I do it, again and again, through the emptiness of a hollow reaction, through the pain of disapproval, through the disinterest, through the bad reviews and through the lack of appreciation for my craft. That’s not to say there hasn’t been anyone who loves my books. There have been a few. Even fewer still come back for more. I am indebted to them, all of them. Those who take the time to write a thoughtful response are worth more to me than ten bad reviews. They are what help keep me motivated. But they alone are not why I write.
It has been said often that everyone has a story to tell and whilst that may be true in essence, it does not mean everyone has a story that must be told. Not all.
But me? I have a story. It’s as profound and meaningful to me as a passage of scripture is to a Priest. It has more meaning for me personally than any worldly success. The story began the first day I was able to speak to my own heart. I remember times even when I was very young, the pain of rejection, the feeling of isolation, the constant need for approval, the desire, oh the simple desire to be accepted for who I was (am).
It has been a life long struggle and continues to this day. My wife, my family and those closest to me know only too well what I am talking about. But even they might be shocked at the depths my despair can reach. Thankfully in my case that despair isn’t so overwhelming as to be unbearable for too long. But writing? You can take any pill humans could invent. You could sit me in front of the most gifted psychologist on the planet. And they would not hold a candle to my writing. It is, for me, the single greatest medicine I could ever take.
My writing takes me into dark places I would normally not wish to go. But during the process of writing, when I unleash all my imagined powers through the characters in my stories, has a tremendously therapeutic effect. It quantifies and qualifies my thoughts, orders them into some logical pattern, places them at the heart of the problems and helps me solve the greatest riddle of my life, my own mind.
Every time I release a new publication, I am taking medicine. Each time someone says something wonderful about them, it results in healing. Not a permanent healing, but an elixir that certainly has a healing effect.
And so I write, as often as the inspiration comes. I write myself into the books, into the very breath every character takes, into the way they walk and talk and into the way they are perceived by others. Take a good hard look at my books and you will see this pattern emerging; of a lost and lonely little boy, completely misunderstood, poorly received, harshly judged and too often ignored. Someone once said, “show me the boy at three and I will show you the man.” But I say, see the man, and you will find the young boy, buried deep within, exposed only when he is upset, challenged, trodden upon, mistreated, embattled or bruised.
Why do I write? I think I answered that question. What do my stories have to offer you? I’m afraid that’s a question only you can answer and only if and when you read my work. But if you are anything like me, you will, whether man or woman, boy or girl, see reflected in my stories, as a mirror reflects a face, your own life indelibly stamped upon the pages as if I have known you intimately for your entire life.
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