Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Reason Why I Write

This has been on my mind a lot lately..."why" I have decided to dedicate my life and related aspirations to the art of writing.

I have always been a writer. Those of us who are writers know that it has nothing to do with being a NY Times Bestseller, book signings, fame, fortune, or even literary status. Those of us who are writers know that we are writers because we have no choice.

We need to write. We live to write. We write to live.

And while the ultimate goal would ideally be to be able to write "for a living"...that doesn't ever stop a true writer from writing. It is what we do. Regardless.

While on vacation a few weeks back, I decided not to pack my netbook, in order to save some luggage weight for shoes, clothing, and anything else fun I'd pick up while shopping at Sawgrass and Aventura malls in south Florida. So I didn't bring my computer. I didn't bring my memory key. I foolishly didn't even bring my journal, a decent pad of paper, or a notebook.

This is the first time I've travelled without a formal mechanism for recording my thoughts, and I was about a day and a half into the trip when I desperately resorted to my BlackBerry to record my thoughts, and sufficiently capture the emotions and the other nuances and by-products of my getaway that I might not be able to recreate when I returned to Toronto.

I thought to myself: I NEED to write! And while I tapped the little BlackBerry keys...I vowed to never travel without my tools again. Even though it was a beach-and-party kind of trip...I still needed my equipment to be able to work when the mood hit me.

And that's what writing is about for me. On a very basic level, it's about capturing a mood. Remembering a moment. Transferring an emotion, or creating a greater emotion. It's about taking that unsettled energy and moulding it into something permanent. It's about documenting an experience--directly, or indirectly--and benefiting from it at a later time.

When I try to articulate (to myself) the "reason" why I write...a few words are always prominent in my psyche: inspiration, motivation, energy, vibe, and capture. It's a combination of these feelings, searching for brilliant moments, and finding the words to use to hold on to them.

I write because I want to take the positive energy that I experience, and preserve its value. Or I want to take a powerful negative emotion, and work through it with words so that it didn't occur in vain.

I write to heal. I write to learn. I write to experience things that I might be trying to avoid or overcome in real life. I write to entertain myself. I write to grow.

Again, 99% of the process selfishly has everything to do with me...and actually very little to do with the "virtual" reader who may or may not have a chance to digest my words.

I trust that this is different for a best-selling author who has a dedicated and distinct audience to serve...maybe if that was the case, I would conciously "try" to create particular texts and evoke particular reactions. Or maybe the process would be exactly the same...

But at the root of it, I think the writing process in itself is a very personal one. And one that very few are fortunate to be able to share publically...for compensation.

So as I transition from a child writer, using pencil-and-lined paper to create characters, situations, and dialogue as a hobby....to an adolescent writer, using my stories as a tool to explore social fantasies and future experiences...to a teenage writer, capturing the juicy events of her peer group on paper, and figuring out the dynamics of the interactions...to a student writer using the process as a stress-reliever....to an adult writer, who still desperately NEEDS this release to navigate the world.

I write because I have to.

Now that I've taken on the role of "publisher" at my independent company Kya Publishing, I realize that my love for writing and my passion for story-telling may have a greater purpose, aside from personal satisfaction. I realize that my love for writing, over the years, has naturally told a story of a first-generation Jamaican-Canadian female growing up in the city of Toronto and its surrounding suburbs.

While I have never specifically written the intimate details of my life, or about those around me, through my fictional creations I have still managed to capture a moment in time. From my first book at the age of ten in 1988 to my last book at the age of 32 in 2010, I have been capturing the journey of an "urban" adventure, coming of age in this country, and developing a literary commentary on what that is like.

I write because "this" story needs to be told.

As a "writer," my goal was to entertain myself, and occasionally entertain my friends, classmates, and colleagues. Over the past few years I've been fortunate enough to have my audience grow to those outside of my immediate circle, which has been awesome. As a "publisher," I feel it's my responsibility to accurately document my journey in this place, space, moment, and time, and allow it to serve as a record of my generation and my culture.

It was never a deliberate act...to become a "publisher." It was an act of necessity. An act of cultural preservation, and an act of love. By publishing my own books, and eventually helping others publish their books as well, I truly believe that I am contributing (even if in a minor and insignificant way) to Canadian history. Urban/Black/Caribbean-Canadian history. I write because I don't ever want the specific experiences of my cultural generation to be overlooked or forgotten.

There is absolutely nothing else I'd rather do.

Written By Stacey Marie Robinson, Kya Publishing.