| David Gane

Why the Heck Do I Write?

For a long time, I’ve been struggling to answer the question of my Why. And when I finally figured out the answer, it surprised me.

The Quest for Why

A couple of weeks ago, I started taking a course to develop as an artistic entrepreneur. We were prompted to the Ted Talk video with Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

In it, he talks about the promise of value that companies offer to their customers. What he argues is that many companies get it wrong. Instead of starting with what they sell, he suggests they should consider why they sell it.

Ever since Ang and I opened up this blog and started writing Along Comes a Wolfe, I’ve been asking myself this same question—or so I thought.

Misunderstanding the Question

Another blog I really like is The Story of Telling from Bernadette Jiwa. She talks about helping your idea resonate by crafting your brand’s story, so that you understand “who the product or service is for, what they really want deep down and why they will care about what you have to offer.”

However, when I thought about the question of the story of Counios and Gane and why people might choose us, I kept getting the direction wrong.

The Influence of Ang

It wasn’t until Ang showed me this video by Michael Jr. for her own blog post that I started figuring things out. I watched from my usual judgemental perspective, busy cross-examining it with Simon Sinek's video.

However, it wasn’t until several mornings afterwards that I clued in—the audience member wasn't singing for the audience. He was singing for himself.

For the longest time, I was thinking about you guys when I should have been thinking about myself.

The beginning of my Why

The first story I ever wrote that made me fall in love with writing happened back in high school. I didn’t plan for it to happen—I sat down at my Commodore 64 and I started putting words on the screen. I didn’t know where it would take me or how it would end. I just needed to write it.

The next day, I printed it off and took it to school to share with my cousin, Debbie. She read it and then some other people read it. The response must have been good because I went home and wrote another chapter. The response continued, so I kept writing, and as the story grew, so did the people who read it.

By the time I was around Chapter 8, it kept getting passed around a lot more than I had expected. I remember there was one class when I just watched my pages go up and down the aisle, being read by people who I never thought would care.

Even better, people were reacting to it and by the time I decided to kill off the girlfriend of the main character, people were upset with me—and I loved it.

Moving through the currents

Whether I realized it or not, every move I've made has centered around writing:

After writing for a while, I inevitably got a less enthusiastic. People critiqued my work, some didn’t like it, some told me I need to learn how to spell or build proper sentences[1]. I took this personally and ended up getting in my own way and quit writing.

Then, I discovered a Super 8 camera in the basement of my house and started making films. I no longer needed to write, since all I had to do was point the camera and push record. This lead me to film school but while there, I needed to learn how to write the stories I wanted to film, so I began teaching myself scriptwriting.

However, all the past doubts came back and I struggled to find my voice again. It took me nearly 15 years to finally enjoy writing again.[2]

Yet, when I finally did start writing again—it was like removing a log jam. The creative rivers started flowing again and in my first year back, I wrote 10 first drafts of scripts—and it felt amazing. Then, I called on my sister-in-law to help me rewrite one of them and so our writing partnership began.

Every step has been built around my love of writing and connecting with an audience. Even the move that Ang and I made away from scripts and into novels is because I wanted to get back to sharing my stories with people—with you, our readers.

My Whys

Now I know that there are plenty of reasons I do what I do:

  • I tell stories because I can.
  • I tell stories because I love sharing them.
  • I tell stories because I like to get a reaction out of people and entertain them.
  • I tell stories because if I don’t, I get miserable.

But I also that there are things that I contribute that help make Ang and I unique:

  • I like stories that can happen in my backyard, my town, my province, my country.
  • I also like stories that take me to other places and let me experience people smarter, funnier, and more exciting than me.
  • Along with that, I also like happy, sad, exciting, and scary stories.
  • I tell stories that my kids and wife can read.
  • And Ang and I have made an active choice to do work that pays the bills so that we can keep doing what we love.

I’m sure there are more, but that’s a start and worth putting up on my wall as a constant reminder.

So What?

I think one of the dangers of putting audience first when I was trying to understand the question is that I tried to shoehorn everyone to fit into my Why. Unfortunately, this made me not define myself or what I stood for or what I wanted, so it made my answer empty.

Like my Writing on the Wall post, I think my list of Whys focuses me and tells you what to expect from my side of the Counios and Gane equation

Ang and I write for everyone but we also do it for ourselves and it took me the process of finding my Why to understand all of this.

Photo by Beverly Nguyen

  1. All fair criticism, except not easy for a 16 year old kid to understand. ↩︎

  2. I know this is the reason why I teach. After not being able to write for so long, I want to help people remove the blocks that stand in their way. ↩︎

Tags: Reflections

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