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  • Writer's pictureJ J Hanna

Why Write?

I’m currently reading a book by Michael Reeves called Delighting in the Trinity. In the beginning of chapter two, Reeves asks the question, “Would you [if you were a god] in your divine wisdom and power ever want to create a universe and, if so, why?” (page 39). He proceeds to offer a few possibilities, like wanting friends or servants. But the answer that comes to my mind as a writer is simply because I can. I can create a world, and I can give all of these different people lives. I can give them intricate experiences and have them interact with each other, but none of them will ever view the same situation the same way. Then I realized this was the same as asking a writer, “Why do you write?” Because I can! Because if I don’t, my characters might do something without me! It seems silly, but it’s our mentality. We create worlds, we create characters. We create these crazy creatures (much like God did in Genesis 1) and then we create drama and a plot line. Each character has a specific role to play. Some of them may be there for comedic relief, others may be there to be the bad guy. Others might even be the main focus of the story, or their friends. But in order for these characters to be real, we also face the complication of knowing them. We have to know our characters intimately, knowing when they had their heart broken by their first crush, or when they stole something from a consignment store and never got caught. The author knows the characters better than the characters know themselves. Even with this knowledge, our characters don’t always listen to us. We created them, we give them life, but our characters have free will. Like I said in The True Job of an Author, we mostly record the events we see rather than control the events. In order for the characters to be complete, they have to be unique. With that uniqueness comes their individual responses to their circumstances. Sure, we took them out for coffee and interviewed them, and they let us into their minds, but they are their own persons. Why do we do this? Why do we allow these apparitions to walk through the pages? Why do we spend hours laboring over what the tree in their back yard looks like, how many levels their house has, and if they have any pets? Why do we decide whether the sky is blue or orange? Because we love them. These people that don’t exist have a special place in our hearts, and it is only right that we allow them to enter our world as well. There is nothing they can do for us. The characters can’t even truly acknowledge our presence. They don’t serve any real purpose for us (assuming we haven’t been published and aren’t making money. But even then, that’s not the character’s job). The best part of this is that when you get a bunch of authors together and you get them to start talking about their characters, each one is real to them. It’s not important that the world has no idea who these people are, because the author knows and the author loves them. The author has to love them, or they wouldn’t have created them. In answer to Michael's question, I believe that God created the world and created us because He loves us and because of that love he couldn’t deny us existence. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t need the universe. But He loves us and it’s in His nature to spread his love. In the same way that I can’t deny my characters life, He couldn’t deny the cosmos life. (Obviously He could, it’s within His power. My use of “couldn’t” is more to explain that he wouldn’t. There’s a drive in Him like there’s a drive in me. No one forces me to write, but they couldn’t stop me if they wanted to. It’s in my nature, just as it’s in God’s nature to love.) I’ve found that the more I write and the more I think of God as the Author of everything, the more I get to know him. After all, there’s no point to having a relationship with someone if you never get to know them. Now that I am a writer of fiction, that side of God makes much more sense. The more I get to know myself as a writer, the more I get to know God. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

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