Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 228 of the 365 Days of Blogging.

The author, Dane F. Baylis


Simple enough question. One word that can drill down, like a five year old saying, "Why?" after every answer you give. Or one that can be answered with that perfectly valid bit of philosophical avoidance, "Why not?"
If you're a writer of any longevity, you have applied it at least once in a personal context, "Why the hell am I doing this?" Probably followed shortly thereafter by, "Why not?" Even when it's you using a question to answer a question, it just pisses you off, doesn't it?
Then there's the ones from outside your head that can leave you squirming, "Why do you write the things you do?" Or worse yet, the one that will haunt you for years every time you put your hands on the keyboard, "Why do you write in that voice?" If you're truly cursed, someone will eventually ask, "Why do you sound so much like_________?" This will require years of therapy to answer, and by then the original inquirer will have lost interest and moved on to ponder the symbolism in Stieg Larsson's novels.
But why is the most important word you as a writer will ever use. Even slightly more important than cocktail. "Why" is where it all starts and what makes it move.
Why do I think I should write Sci-fi? Why should my main character be a blind woman? Why should I throw out those first fifty pages? Why a short story instead of a novel?
And these questions will evoke greater questions from people whose names and numbers you will drop from your list of closest friends. Why did you decide on Sic-fi? Why not try making the antagonist your main character? Why didn't you start on page one hundred? Why did you think you could cram so much into a short story?
It will become a never-ending gonging in your head, "WHY - WHY - WHY?", like cathedral bells. Why that hook and not this? Why that time period? Why the .38 caliber instead of the .44 Glock? Why sex in the desert instead of a lonely night in a flea bag motel in North Nowhere, Wyoming?
Eventually, the question is applied to everything. Why that word? Why did I make them turn left again? Why not a semicolon or a dash in that spot? Why have my characters gone to the Mojave? Don't they realize I rented this room here because Wyoming is a wonderfully secluded place to write?
All right, if the why questions start taking that turn, it's time to dial your therapist - Or at least wander down to the bar for another cocktail. But take a notebook, because life presents all sorts of interesting things to ask "why" about. Like, why the Polynesian motif in a bar in this frozen shit hole?
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------, love, write. Why? Because I said so!
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Dane F. Baylis

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