We all have questions that we don’t like to be asked, that makes us feel uncomfortable. From “So, what’s your story about” when you would have to give away the precious plot twist forged so carefully to “So, are you planning on publishing it?” that would lead to hours-long lecture on differences between traditional publishing and self-publishing and why “planning” is not necessarily the correct verb. It even might be “Why did you kill that character?” when you simply don’t know the answer…
But the most dreaded question on my list is something different. It makes me feel a bit lost and I start wondering how one explains passion to others. The ones who have a passion on their own, something that occupies their thoughts almost all the time, will understand, but they rarely ask such question. They already relate and they would instantly understand a simple answer such as “Because I have to.”
But how do I explain it to people who don’t feel passionate about anything particular? Who don’t have a time and mind consuming hobby or activity they wouldn’t give up under any circumstances?
I could tell them “Because I want to be published”, but even if I never got published, I still would be writing, and it’s not like after I saw my first story in print I considered my goal achieved. I could tell them “Because I want to be famous”, but that would be a plain lie (and after all there are so many other, faster and more efficient ways to gain “fame”). Finally, I could say “Because I want to be rich”, but most of the writers know that getting published does not guarantee one becoming rich overnight… or even in 10 years. And since I don’t really have the mission of having my writing change the world, I cross this answer without even considering it.
Since that simple “Because I have to” will not work all the times, I usually go with something along the lines of “I like creating stories” hoping that would be enough. Some people will recognize the passion even if they can’t relate as they don’t have one, and the others won’t be satisfied no matter what answer they will receive.
I have to admit that after all those years and all the people I talked to, I still hope this is the question I won’t be asked. But when the writer’s block hits, and I struggle with my writing or come up with excuses, there is another question I fear even more than this one. It comes with my partner’s sincere smile:
“Why don’t you write?”
Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games.
Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English.
Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.