I am a writer. It's less of what I do and more of what I am. I get up in the morning, I sit down at the computer, and I write. Eventually, I remember to eat.
I'm not pretentious enough to compare it to being a monk, or a priest. Yes, it is a vocation, just like any other job one feels born to do, but that's where the similarities end. For those people who say that it is lonely, or monkish, that's a lie. Sorry, but it is. Certainly, it is a thing that can be lonely, and loners can enjoy the professional easily. But to say that it is an entirely solo endeavor out of necessity is a lie. Basic human interaction, conversations, hammering out details or ideas, can be just as important to the writer as the little writer's notebook – or Droid phone, if you must be modern about it.
But I must write. It's not OCD, or even merely compulsive. But writing is a kind of legal schizophrenia – I know the people in my head aren't real, and they know too, but that doesn't make them shut up. It's not a literal thing, but the pressure to put the ideas together are just as incessant as an annoying character nattering away at you.
Not everyone can become a writer. And I don't recommend that anyone becomes a writer. I am a writer because I have to be one. I'm good for very little else. I can take a walk, and most people can enjoy the scenery, or be wary of traffic. I take a walk, and I think up new ways to blow up buildings, or start a thriller by hitting someone with the crosstown bus. Normal people can watch television. Writers come up with several different endings as they're watching it.
When people tell me that they want to be writers, I tell them that they don't want to be writers. I'm close to telling them that they can't be, but that would be a lie. Writing is a discipline, and can be learned, or taught, if you have the patience for it. But they don't know what they're in for. Forget the characters annoying you until you write their story. Forget that the first million words are, really, just practice. As most writers are introverts, they have to remember that the self-promotion is an entirely different problem.
Keep in mind what a writer does. We play God. We created world and people, and rewrite history to suit our needs, and the needs of a character. The author Dorothy Lee Sayers wrote a book on The Mind of the Maker, because fiction writers have much in common with the Creator – especially when the characters start making decisions on their own.
For those people who like to outline, that's a different sort of insanity.
Keep in mind, I'm one of the shallow writers. I write thrillers. I blow things up, shoot people up, and have a grand old time about it. I write to entertain. One can slip in a message, if they like, but I prefer to send an email, or Western Union. The film Star Trek IV may work with a “save the whales” message, but it works because it has a solid story, and the whales were a legitimate MacGuffin.
Though one could say that I have a message just by having a point of view. I am a Catholic, Thomistic philosopher. I have a certain viewpoint on the world. But give ten writers the same idea, and you'll get ten different executions of that idea.
If I may use my own works as an example, I have written a series of vampire romance novels. Yes, I blow things up in my novels, and I've written a romance. Long story. The series is called Love at First Bite – in part because I do puns. It's a thing.
As one of the tag lines I've written for the series says: One is a blood-thirsty, homicidal monster, and the other's a vampire.
Give on other that premise, and one character is Dexter Morgan, by Jeffy Lindsay. And he might be partnered with Edward Cullen. Give another author the premise, and the pairing becomes The Blacklist's Raymond Reddington and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Is it a message about redemption? Maybe. At most, it can be a conversation starter.
But I'm just a writer. I write people who blow things up. I write people who shoot up other people. I want my audience to have fun. I want them to enjoy the action, the adventure, and the story. There are good guys to save, heroines to woo, and bad guys to stop.
Anyone who wants to read deeper into it is free to do so. At my best, I hope the audience has some ideas to chew on, and let the message attend to itself.
Declan Finn writes fiction and non-fiction from a uniquely Catholic perspective. You can find him at his website, A Pius Geek, and hanging out at The Catholic Geeks.
All of his books are available on his author page at Amazon.