Why Do Writers Write?

Asking my self this same question, “Why do I write?” I am taken to this keyboard to try to explain it to myself… And hopefully you

When I was a cook and then a chef in the 80s and early 90s, an episode of Northern Exposure was able to explain why I cooked, to me. One of my favorite characters, Adam the Chef, posed this question to his sous chefs;

“Why do I cook?” the barefoot Adam, portrayed by Adam Arkin, bellowed at the sous, lined up like in a fraternity hazing line, or a military book camp scene from many movies.

One underling replied; “Because I like to eat my own cooking.”

Adam, heated more so, replied; “Exactingly, because I like my Osso Bucco, my Eggs Benedict with my Hollandaise. I like my Bernaise on my Rack of Lamb…”

But, when as a chef, then before as a cook, now as the preparer of my favorite dishes ten years after leaving the biz, when I am done with the creative process, I get to sit down to a meal, that makes me happy. A meal that I savor, that I share with my mate, that brings me happiness.

So what makes writers different than Chefs?

When I write, when I am really in the groove, (hopefully) writing stories that I hope will move you… It is as if the story is telling itself to me. At these times I am simply the typist. When putting pen to paper, I am simply the writer, using the skills I learned in grade school to make marks on a white sheet that previously was blank.

When that is over, when the story line ends, when it stops telling me what to write down, there is no plate of savory creation to enjoy. There is no one to share it with. No one to tell me how good it is, no one to say “Mmmmmm….”

In fact, when I have done my best work, when the story told me what to jot down, I actually experience a depression. The vision of the characters having a conversation, a meeting of their minds, their’s and if I am lucky, mine, is gone.

The image of them, living in my imagination and being recorded to text on the screen or pen strokes on paper, fleets. I am left with only reading what just moments before was alive before me, as a pale comparison of what my mind saw. For that time when I wrote, my Kimis and Stuarts were alive. They spoke, I listened, recorded.

Now, reading the record of their moment, I become only an editor, trying to refine what you will hopefully someday read, and some how, SEE, LIVE, Re-Animate as they speak to you, seeing them in your mind too.

And that leads me to try to explain why writers write…

It is not the end result we writers crave, the dish shared, savored, the pleasure our mouths derive from the consumption. But instead, we write again, because like you, our imagined reader that can’t stop eating no matter how full you become, we as writers can’t wait for our characters to tell us what happens next.

And so I pour bourbon into my mouth as I write this, in a effort to not long for the next story Kimi and Stuart will tell me. I can now only hear them faintly, no longer speaking, they seem to mumble.

Until then we part, like the lover that has loved and left me, I wait for the next lovemaking session and my lover’s return. As I hope you crave the next time my writing makes love to your imagination.

– Chris Lang – 11:11 PM, February 8th, Denver, Colorado