Why (... I write)

Austrian writer Klaus Ebner asks a question he has been asked by numerous readers and journalists: why does he write literature? By examining his own artistic development, including early indications in childhood and at school, he tries to give an answer with this autobiographic essay, which was written originally in German and translated by the author himself to several languages, including English.

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The Question

At least once in a lifetime, every writer asks why he or she writes. I came across such an assertion several times; in articles and commentaries, and certainly also in philological textbooks. But is that really so?

I believe the truth is slightly different: It isn’t the writers themselves who come up with such a question, maybe based on some inner necessity; no, not at all—this question is brought up by others, by the social environment, by readers, friends and family, by journalists and the scholars of literature departments at universities who are keen on finding out the trigger or the source of inspiration which can suddenly turn otherwise respectable citizens into authors.

The question of the why seems to require a justification. But a justification for what? It almost seems that writers should be seen as aberrations within society, as outlaws, as irresponsible daydreamers and madmen. Well, maybe we are a little bit crazy, because pursuing a vocation, which in most cases requires a lot of work but does not bring in much money (and guarantees a living to only a choice few), has in fact very little to do with economic thinking or even with reason.

To be honest, I never asked myself the question of why I write. Writing is part of my self-worth. It is the expression of my personality and I can hardly imagine living without it, as I cannot imagine living without one of my limbs. On the other hand, I’ve often been asked the question, and in most cases I looked up with an open mouth (ergo stupidly) and didn’t know what to answer. I probably didn’t even understand what was actually being asked, but eventually the question maneuvered me into a long process of reflection.

The question of why is not a simple one. In order to get closer to it and ultimately find something like a viable answer, it seems to me advisable to explore the how and why of key developments in my childhood that gradually shaped me into who I am today.

This book is available from Amazon US, or, for European residents, also from the German BoD ShopYou can choose between the printed book or an e-book.

The cover has been designed by Klaus Ebner, using a picture by Janet Gooch on Pixabay, www.pixabay.com, and a photograph by Karl Grabherr, www.grabherr-photography.com.