Why do any of us read?
I read to escape. Mostly. On occasion I am surprised and I find that while I am escaping, I am also moved, or I have learned something.
I also, specifically, read to learn. Sometimes I read about physics and space. Sometimes I read about philosophy. Occasionally it is religion, or biology, or history.
The two main reasons, then, are escapism and education.
Why do any us write?
There seem to be two categories of writers: those who write for the main purpose of entertaining (while, perhaps, making social/personal/historical commentaries); and those who write to educate and inform.
I don’t know of any writing that falls entirely outside of those two categories.
As you have likely already noticed, the reasons we read and the reasons we write fall into line. Those who read to escape, read books that are written to entertain. Those who read books to learn something, read books that are written to education and inform.
But, is it really that straight forward?
I think about Stephen King; J.K. Rowling; John Scalzi, among a whole horde of others who clearly write a great deal and who, no one can argue, entertain a great number of people. And of course, within their writing are lessons, social commentary, historical commentary etc. There is information being imparted to the reader on behalf of the author. Education and information is not the point of these authors (I would guess), but there are those moments nevertheless.
Transversely, books by a political candidate; a philosopher; or a neurologist are not, necessarily, setting out to be entertaining; yet, some of these books are entertaining and a reader is able to enjoy them as they would a piece of well written fiction.
Lines/boundaries blur. There is rarely a black and white of anything (in life, in general). In future posts, I will explore the kind of writers that exist (and, ultimately, tackle the question of why we write), but with the caveat that there are no absolutes.
There is not, nor will there ever be, a single instance of Truth — with a capital T.
But why is there writing? And more importantly, why do people write? Where does this need to put words (and pictures) down come from, and why?
This, dear friends, is what we are going to explore.