an author's purpose

Words on paper really looks legitimate. Like, really legitimate. It is as if it’s on print, then everything said is right. After all, it’s written there on a book!

That’s what I have in mind when I wandered aimlessly through Borders earlier today. In front of me are thousands of authors who have something to say and get the words out there. It’s as if all of their saying is true. Maybe. Maybe not.

When I ask myself why I want to be a writer, I often wonder if it’s stemmed from an egocentric point of view. Like, seriously, why do I want to tell people what I’m thinking, how I’m feeling? As a writer, why do I bother to share my stories, my experiences? Is it really to help people? Or is it simply because, well, I want my name to be out there?

Sometimes I wonder if whether I write as a mean to convince people that my view in life is the best one, or even the right one.

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. In his book Steal Like an Artist, Austin Kleon said that nothing is original. Being original simply means taking the idea of a lot of people and present it as a new one. That simple.

I think it’s true.

And yet, it’s contradictory to being a writer. We want to tell that our experiences are unique, that we have something worth telling and reading about. Yet it’s just something that has been said, only being said again in a different way. Different packaging of the same thing, really.

As I read hundreds of different summaries on the back cover of the books that are lucky enough to be published, I wonder, when does one get qualified for her writings to be legit?

On what credentials, on what authority can we claim that we-know-better-than-you?

We don’t.

So I try to answer this simple question: Why do I write?

I guess, writing, for me, is my way to understand life. It’s the one thing that forces me to stop, and really listen to that street musician playing the violin. It’s something that enables me to experience life. If my story is able to touch others, then it’s a bonus. If what I write is able to help and bless people, it’s a double bonus.

I realise that as humans, we all are the product of all the things that happen around us. From the parents we have, the family we grow up in, the schools we go to, the relationships we have, the travelling we undergo. No two people go through the same things, and that what makes each person unique. As writers, we simply bring forth our reflections on paper.

So why do we write?

I found the answer while reading one book cover. And it struck home.

“One author’s purpose… (is) only to set out the writing and ways of seeing to which he was exposed.”

V.S  Naipul, A Writer’s People

That simple.


Photo by Madhya