“There are three reasons for becoming a writer. The first is that you need the money; the second, that you have something to say that you think the world should know; and the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings.” -Quintin Crisp
Reminding me a little bit of Eliot’s 10 Reasons for Writing a Blog (and 5 Reasons for Not), this quote from Quintin Crisp got me thinking. Mostly, it got me thinking that there had to be more than just three reasons for becoming a writer (and I’m pretty sure that ‘you need the money’ isn’t a very applicable one; how many times have you been told that writing will not make you any substantial cash?), and, out of the three that Crisp does present, which one is my reason? And which one do other writers identify with?
I thought, for the purposes of exploring this quote, I’ll break it down one at a time:
1. The first is that you need the money: All cards on the table, I’m not going to lie. I definitely do need the money. I have a job, but it’s not a very highly paying job and the hours are slim at best. However, I’m pretty sure I could go out there and get a second job and make more money. I’ve done it before. But I’ve decided that I finally want to start treating money like a career, so the possibility that I might be able to make a little more money through something I love doing is appealing. I don’t expect it to be much. Just a little supplemental income to make a dent in my debt, to be the deciding factor between Ramen for dinner or fresh meat. But to suggest that this is the first reason or even a major reason that people might go into writing seems a little absurd to me. Either that, or the people who go into writing “for the money” are completely delusional. Some people can pull it off, but that is rare, from what I heard. First thing I’m always told in writing groups is “Don’t quit your day job.” Then again, maybe I’m just talking to the wrong people…
Besides, almost anything done “for the money” tends to be disingenuous and lacking in passion. To me, art created for prosperity’s sake is just abysmal and depressing. For the most part. I mean, I love some pretty cheesy stuff, but even that seems to be fairly tongue-in-cheek and self-aware.
2. …the second, that you have something to say that you think the world should know… I would have easily said that this section of Crisp’s quote is the most applicable for me person, but I hold an issue with the language. As a writer, I figured that’s allowed. To make it more applicable to myself, I would change it to having a story to tell that you want the world to hear. Of course, I do have something to say, but I’m a storyteller, first and foremost. I love to tell stories, I think my stories are awesome, and I want to share them with the world. To me, Crisp’s take seems to suggest that there’s a soapbox involved, that I want to hop on up and proclaim my ideas to the world at large, but I see my desire to tell a story to be a much softer approach. But there’s still something I want to say…I don’t think the world should know it, but I’d be awfully glad if they did.
3. …the third is that you can’t think what to do with the long winter evenings. I don’t really agree with number three too terribly much, either. Because I can think of a lot of things to do with a long winter evening. I could go on about it; I’m from Michigan, I know about long winter evenings and I could probably ramble off at least fifteen things in the first ten seconds of being prompted with this challenge. So allow me to be presumptuous enough to fix this part of the quote, too
One of the reasons I’m a writer is because I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do with the long winter evenings.
I don’t think there are three reasons for becoming a writer. I think there’s just one. And that’s simply that you love to write. Maybe that’s a bit simple, but that’s how it’s how it’s always been for me.
What about you? What are your reasons for being a writer? And thanks for listening to my random dissection of some random quote from someone I’ve honestly never heard of before…
On another note, this is my first attempt to start posting things I’ve already written as a back-up for when I can’t think of anything else to write. I don’t like to do similar posts so close to each other, but I was drawing a blank this morning and had this ready to go. It’s probably a really good idea to have some pre-written posts ready to go in the event of Brain Dead…