The Most Dreaded Questions

By takomabibelot via Flickr
By takomabibelot via Flickr

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

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.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Diane

    I never thought of it, but you’re right that it is harder to explain why one goes through all the highs and lows of writing, to someone who doesn’t feel passionate about anything. I guess I’m at the age (47) where people’s eyes light up (because they want to follow their passion too?) when I say I’m following my dream to become a writer. For me it is the “what is it about/when will it be published” that gets my knees a knocking (and praying that they don’t ask me more after my canned response – smile)

    1. melfka

      I agree that the “what is it about” and “when will it be published” can be really painful and the answer I really would love to give sometimes is “It’s complicated” (it works for relationships, why wouldn’t it work for writing? 😉 ).
      I think the fact that people understand your passion and their eyes light up is also an indicator that you try to surround yourself with passionate, creative people: I think this is very positive.

  2. Peter Jones

    “Why do you write?”
    “Why do you breathe?” 🙂

    I must admit, I’m not quite as driven to write as that. Some days I wish I was, but I seem to have too many other interests clamouring for equal attention. But when I *am* writing, when I’m in the zone, what else is there?! 🙂

    1. melfka

      I think this is creative people’s problem, that many things demand their attention (I admit, I am an avid gamer – playing video games also helps me plot), but I am the same – when I actually write, there’s nothing else.

      1. Peter Jones

        The three books I’ve written were produced via NaNoWriMo. (Sort of; the third one ultimately took 5+ years to finish.) And for each NNWM attempt, at least one weekend has been rendered completely unproductive because of the release of a new game that I just *had* to tackle straight away… For, um, research…

        1. melfka

          Hahaha, sounds like me ;). But for that very reason I don’t even attempt to partake in NaNoWriMo (though I admire people who do and reach the 50k goal). When I had 2 weeks off for the last Christmas, I spend my holidays pretty much in Skyrim (coming back to the game… or rather “starting over” as usual) and even though I haven’t written a word, I’d consider them very productive: I came up with a world, magic system, characters and some plots for a new project.

          1. Peter Jones

            I’m playing Skyrim now. Started almost exactly a year ago, played for 10 minutes, got distracted … but now I’m racking up the hours. It sure has an impressive amount of content; everywhere I go I’m discovering new stories, new missions. It’s impressive. And, yes, certainly gets the creativity flowing! 🙂

          2. melfka

            Well, I hope you enjoy it! I need to go back to it and play some more. I played for two weeks straight and still haven’t gotten nowhere near finishing it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.