Thursday, July 27, 2006

Why Write?

Sometimes I just want to write. Not because I have to, but because I want to. Maybe it's a character I want to get to know. Sometimes it's an image I can't get out of my head. Other times I just need to tell someone else's story.

Lately, I've been toying with an idea that would require me to write the entire book without a contract. I still want to write it.

Yet, I'm keenly aware that as a writer-who-must-earn-at-least-a-partial-living, it's not particulary cost-effective.

I want to do it anyway.

Same goes with the screenplay I would like to finish. All the work has to be up front. I can't sell a thing unless the thing is written. Upfront labor without any guarantee of being paid.

Can you imagine if other industries worked this way?

What about going to the gas pumps and pumping just a few dollare worth of gas (though that's not much anymore). We look around and decide this gas station isn't very neat and there is some trash by the pump and the handle was sticky so we decide to go somewhere else. When asked to pay, we instead say -

"This station just doesn't meet my needs at this time."

Or how about a plumber that comes to fix your icemaker and he comes in and tracks mud on your floor, puts scuff marks on your tile and makes your whole kitchen smell like beer and cigarettes. He fixes the icemaker but instead of paying him you decide that the experience wasn't worth it.

"Your work just isn't suitable for this house."

Or a home builder who agrees to build a family the exact home they are asking for - without a contract. The builder builds it with the right number of rooms and the right number of floors and special custom molding and windows to add a special touch. But when the time comes to actually sign the contract, the family decides that yes, there are five rooms, but they should have been in different places and yes, you added that garage just like we asked, but it should have been a three-car garage instead of a two. Nobody has three car garages! the builder protests. "Ahhhh," the family says, "Our house must set the standard and this house doesn't meet our standards."

Just doesn't work anywhere else.

Do all the work first, spend hours and hours at your computer for nothing in return and still I can't help but do it.

Writers are crazy.

And still there's nothing else I'd rather be.