Friday, November 11, 2011

Why We Write

Frank Capra, the director of the iconic “It’s a Wonderful Life”, was commisioned by the U.S. Government at the start of World War II to work on a series of films entitled “Why We Fight”. Capra’s mission, according to Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall, was to create films “that will explain to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting...”. Capra succeeded brilliantly and the films went on to be shown not only to the troops but to the general public as well.
Capra has always been one of my personal heroes. His principles of the little guy overcoming the odds (“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”) and being the best person you can be (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) really inform my writing and even my life.
I’ve recently been thinking, as my nascent writing career finally begins to gain some traction, why I write. Why am I a writer? Even as I strive to be a positive person I do know that the road ahead will not be an easy one. I know that I will have my share of challenges, roadblocks and detours. I know that I will have to maintain discipline, push forward and always keep my eyes on the prize.
I have always found that it’s far easier to maintain momentum and motivation when you have some compelling “whys” to keep in mind. Here’s the start of a list I compiled...
  • I have something to say. As above, I try very hard to maintain a positive outlook. Having lived on the pessimistic, negative side of the fence for a good long time I have to work at it (sometimes very hard). Having been on both sides, though, I can say with some authority that life is much better when you at least try to be optimistic and positive. I know that people can change and better themselves. I have seen in my own life that goals can be achieved and obstacles can be overcome. Unfortunately, there are many people out there who don’t see things that way. My goal is to get people to see that when you choose to truly live life and stand for positivity and optimism your life is infinitely better and richer.
  • For my boys. I have three amazing pre-teen boys. I have to be an example to them of all the above, especially that one can set a goal and achieve it. It’s also important that I get to the point in my writing career where I can provide for them in the way I should.
  • Some say I have some talent at this writing thing. Who am I to argue? So if I have this talent, don’t I have some measure of responsibility to use it (especially for something good) and not waste it?
  • Writing gives me control over my life. My success as a writer is largely dependent on the quality and quantity of my work. I can’t be laid off (that’s happened) and I can’t be fired illegally (also happened). I control my destiny.
  • I love it. I love the idea of creating something and seeing it in print. I love how writing can be a therapeutic outlet for me. I love the idea of touching someone’s life and moving them emotionally.
  • This is probably what I have always been meant to do. I was one of those kids who daydreamed during class. Writing has always been an outlet for both my creativity and emotions. It was when I began to take the notion of being a writer seriously that I felt more happy and more fulfilled.

I suppose there are a host of other reasons, but those are the primary ones, the reasons that motivate me right now. I suppose we all have dreams, we all have goals. What are your whys?