Theoretically, millions of pairs of eyes may read these words. Or maybe none at all but mine.
I write them anyway.
I’ve worked multiple low-end day jobs to scrape up enough money to pay the rent and buy paper.
During the boring parts of day job phone meetings, I scribble random words on sticky notes I then throw away. Nobody reads those at all, not even me.
What drives this compulsion to write?
After so many decades of continuing to do so in near-absolute obscurity, it’s obviously not because of the Fame an all its trappings.
I have made enough money over the course of my entire writing career to buy a used motorcycle – but probably not a new one, and I’m not sure where the gas money will come from. So it’s apparently not for the Fortune and all the things it can buy me.
Do I write enough poetry to impress women? Maybe once. Maybe twice. Less often than, say, a running back who scored a single touchdown in that one game on Friday night. So it’s not for all the free sex.
Thus far, no pen company has decided to underwrite me, and I’m paying for my ink with the blood, tears, sweat, and tears I give to the various day jobs.
Whiskey distilleries have likewise shown no love, which is a damn shame. So it seems unlikely I’m doing it for the perks.
Yet still I write. Every day. Sometimes twice a day. Sometimes, I only write in short bursts when I can squeeze ten or fifteen minutes out of all the other demands of daily life. Other times, I write for hours and hours, until my fingers cramp and my knuckles bleed and my eyes can’t focus.
As you can see, the rewards never end.
I don’t write for prestige. Except for perhaps some rarified circles in which I’ve never found myself, telling someone – family, for instance – that I’m a writer is usually met with reactions of, “Oh, so you’re rich like Stephen King?” or “How do you make a living like that?” This isn’t a range; those are, with slight variations, the only options.
No, I write because I need to, because the words are inside me and if I don’t get them out – if I don’t tell my stories – the pressure will get too great and I’ll explore, a Mount Vesuvius of words and ink and other internal organs. I write because I’m too conscientious to make somebody else clean up that mess.