L.A. Kennedy

Beyond the story

Varun Vaswani

I love to write.

I have known this ever since I wrote my first collection of short stories when I was eleven years old. But the question arises, why do I like to write?

For the record, answering questions about why you like something can seem contrived. As an example, consider the following conversation:

“What’s your favorite color?”

“Blue”

“Why?”

“Huh?”

“Why do you like blue?”

“Umm…I don’t know…I just like it…”

“C’mon, there has to be a reason you like blue.”

“Umm…maybe because the color of the sky is blue…”

“Okayyy…”

“….It’s also the color of the ocean. Blue feels serene, and vast, and infinite.”

“Really?”

“I don’t know man…I just know that I like blue.”

Does there really have to a reason I like something? I like it because I just do. The only thing I know is that I like it. God alone knows the reason.

Nevertheless, I will attempt to answer the question of why I love to write. If for no other reason, then to amuse myself. That’s what writing is mostly about, isn’t it? Telling stories to oneself, alone in the quiet confines of the blank page.

Firstly, I need to clarify that there is no reward waiting for me if I successfully write something. No one is waiting with baited breath to read my stories. The odds of being published are always negligible. I write for sake of writing itself, simply for the joy of doing it. But why I do enjoy it at all?

First and foremost, I am a storyteller at heart. Since I was a child, I loved to tell stories, real or made-up, to friends, family or anyone who would listen.

My mother likes to tell people how when I was a boy, my grandmother came to read me a story and put me to bed. Instead, I ended up doing the storytelling. I rambled on, with story after story, until my dear granny was fast asleep. It was a few minutes before I heard her snoring and realized that I was only talking to myself at that point.

Writing is just an extension of that need to communicate, to tell my stories.

Writing is like a form of telepathy. A written story is incomplete until it comes alive in the reader’s imagination. The reader is the co-creator of the story. No two readers will conjure up the exact same images in their mind for the same characters and same story.

Another compelling reason to write is the simple joy of creation. When I write my story, I feel like I am playing God. I have built an imaginary world. I have put people in that world and I decide what happens in their lives. I make them laugh. I make them cry. I make them scared. I give them hope. I make them endure ordeal after ordeal, and watch them learn and grow.

As I do this, I get a feeling of euphoria of creating something, where nothing previously existed. Like a mother giving birth to a child. There is nothing that compares to the wonder of creation

Finally, writing stories serves as a vehicle for self-discovery. The underlying themes of the story reflect the personality of the author. My life in the real world is mundane. I go to work, come back home, watch television, maybe go out for dinner. Nothing exceptional really happens. But, for the characters in my stories, all sorts of things happen. They have to survive a deadly flood, fight off a snarling dog, find their way out of an underground hole, and so on.

As I write these scenes, I experience them along with my characters. I see through their eyes. I feel their fear, joy and pain. Their reactions and emotions are indicative of my own state of mind. Writing these stories reveals to me, my desires and fears, my strengths and weaknesses, my relationships to family and friends, my attitudes towards the world, my hopes for the future.

Writing is sometimes like a free session with a psychiatrist to uncover the hidden secrets locked away in my subconscious mind. It is an effective way to understand what makes me tick.

I believe those are enough reasons to explain why I enjoy writing. Maybe some of those reasons sound compelling to some of you reading this, and incite you to bring out that pen or keyboard.

Now, not all days at the writing desk are the same. On some days, the words don’t come and getting any output at all is like trying to squeeze out the last bit of toothpaste from an empty tube. On other days, writing is easy and the words flow freely onto the page like running water from an open tap. On those days, I have to get out of the way and let the story come through me.

But above all, when I’m in the zone and telling my stories, then writing is bliss.

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