Robin de Voh
there's never enough stories

Nanoprep 2021 Day 15: Why I Write

By Robin de Voh on 2021-10-22

"Why do you write?" is a question I get a lot. Whether it's directly related to the once-a-year writing frenzy I'm currently writing this for, or more in general. People who don't write will be confused as to why I do. Some of them are creative, in which case it's relatively easy to compare it to something creative they do. I write just like you make music. I write stories like you draw something. I write just like how you crocheted that hat for your pet weasel.

But when people aren't themselves creative, it becomes harder to answer. The question turns from 'why do you write?' to 'why are you creative?' and to be honest, it's been keeping my creative yet stupid brain busy for too long.

Why am I creative?

Let's start at something tangentially related. My sister has ADD, and looking at her, my father and myself, yeah, I'm pretty sure it's a family trait. Unbeknownst to my family I've seen therapists before, and so far the ADD thing tracks. My mind goes from one track to another without me even really noticing, following trains of thought others often find kind of weird. I'll go from someone saying 'hello' to 'I remember that person yesterday who said hi weird' to 'I wonder if their day was okay' to 'my day wasn't okay' to 'my mind is full of thoughts and that's why I'm not cleaning my living room' and suddenly I'm cleaning my living room.

All because someone said hello.

This, to me, makes total sense. It'll happen in a matter of seconds, and it's just how my brain has always handled things. It's massively beneficial in my job, since it allows me to see patterns beyond what a more logical person would see. They'd be stuck on 'but it doesn't make sense' and my mind would already be at 'doesn't matter, the evidence bears it out'. It allows for creative shortcuts that often only make sense afterwards.

My mind doesn't let itself be stopped by logic.

Now, that makes me a mess in other ways -- hence the living room that is... Let's just say you're not invited -- but it does also come into play when we're talking about creative endeavors.

So, why am I creative? I can only speak for myself, but the chaos in my head, the random tangential connections I make between A, B and XYZ, definitely seems to be a part of it.

An external example of this happened 2 years ago.

I was having a beer with a friend of mine, and when he got up to go to the toilet I delegated my chaotic brain patterns to him. I said "while you're peeing, think of two unrelated things and tell me about them. I'll write a story using those." He looked at me like I'm insane -- which he does often, and I can't blame him -- but said "alright".

When he came back, he proudly proclaimed: "Faster than Light travel, and human sacrifice!"

And within seconds, I responded with "Okay, wait, so FTL, and human sacrifice. Human sacrifice was performed by Mayans, so if they're connected, what if they were right? What if human sacrifice actually totally worked, and the gods were totally in their favor? What if the mayans -- or their descendents -- could use the gods' favor to actually develop human sacrifice-based FTL?"

I then quickly googled "mayans historical area" and tadaa, later that night I wrote The Cuauhtēmallān.

That is an external version of how my brain generally works. I wrote Halloween Crowd because I wondered "what if a Halloween party was actually creepily fucked up", and Great Minds Dream Alike by going "what if instead of Freddie Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street) invading some teen's mind it was just another teen, equally confused as to what's happening?". Lucky Find was actually based on a party I'd had the week before (the reason I missed October 15th), where someone showed me a drawing she'd done for #inktober of a luck potion from fucking Harry Potter.

Look, you don't get to choose where your ideas come from, alright?

When you're creative, you're just happy ideas keep coming. They might be extremely dumb, but then it's your job to turn them into something more clever.

So I think that's why I am creative. Why I write. My mind's a jumbled mess, I make connections between things that any sane person wouldn't even make -- they'd go "Nah that's weird" and drop it.

And then I sit down, and I do the fucking work.

Because no joke, this takes hours. Every single day during October I sit down, sometimes with an idea already perfectly percolated, but sometimes I sit down and google 'writing prompts' and hope something jumps out and speaks to me. That when I read a prompt, my mind goes "oh, what if...".

Some of my best stories are based on prompts from either an instagram account, or a website called (but not that one, that one doesn't exist).

But having an idea is only one part of it.

What October has always been about is not having story ideas -- I have those beyond what I could write in a lifetime -- but about doing the actual work.

Sitting my ass down in front of a keyboard of some description, and actually spending the time writing it, reading it back, editing it, doing all of that again, and then posting it.

And I generally only do one re-read and edit for these, and that's already stretching my limited ADD attention span.

Why am I creative? Just because I am. I got nothing more useful for you. There's no Creativity 101, you either figure out for yourself where yours is or I can't help you.

Why do I write? Because I gotta. I have a drive to do so and I haven't been able to stop it. To be honest, it's just getting worse, to the point where others seem to go 'wtf is wrong with you?' and I can't even fault them.

But I won't stop.

This is who/what/why I am.

These stupid little stories, unread, unseen, and unloved as they are, are me. They are a part of me and there is little in this world I love more than that. I challenge you to get close to them. But even then I'd never forfeit on these.

I lost my love of writing for years. But then I found it again. And I'm not going through that again.

I write because I must.

I just must.