Seeing the way others approach this is interesting to me. Maybe its my fascination with the why's and such of what people do. I have to say, the need to be understood and the desire to hide at the same time are both pretty fascinating.
I have asked myself before why I do this, why I write fiction. I know why I write academic work. I write that for my own fascination, for grades, recognition, sharing knowledge, being understood. Fiction is something different for me.
Clearly part of writing on this site is about a desire to have someone else read what I write. If I didn't care if others saw what I wrote I would just write on my own computer and not post it where others could read it. At the same time I am well aware that posting my material on this site does not mean anyone is going to read it. Yet I still write.
Through my time here on Protagonize I have learned quite a bit about myself and what I enjoy, why I do what I do. I do it for me, first and foremost. I write because I have an idea, a feeling, something. I write because I need to get it out of my head, find some way to make the idea into something more. It's the same reason I sometimes have to draw. There is something in my head and I am sure I can get it out.
To be quite honest, most of my drive to write has nothing to do with anyone other than me. Unless I'm collaborating. Then it is about me and those I collaborate with. It is about the story, about what gets produced.
It is after I write that my ego raises its head. I don't care if anyone knows who I am, but I also have made no major effort to hide who I am. I do, however, enjoy knowing that what I have produced is appreciated by others. I admit, I love seeing that someone has commented on my work, rated my work (preferably well), added me as a favourite, or left a nice comment on my profile. Lately I have desperately been hoping to see some critique, some response to how I write that gives me ideas of how to improve, what I'm not quite doing write, other ways to try. I'd love to be noticed, have a following.
Let's be honest, though. It doesn't always happen. I have branches that have no ratings or comments, and some of them I am not sure anyone has read. I am not the most popular author on the site, not the most rated, not the most featured, not the highest rated.
Sometimes this bothers me. Sometimes my ego throws a little fit and wonders why not me. Occasionally I try to write something that I think would be popular, or join in a popular story in the hopes of being noticed by more people. It doesn't seem to have really led to a significant change in who I hear from, who I write with. I admit, I've found that a little disheartening on occasion.
Then I have something I need to get out and I write again, or a story moves forward and I find myself addicted to continuing it, finding out where it goes, producing characters that live, just for a little while.
I appreciate comments and critiques because I think improving my writing is a worthwhile thing to do. Expressing myself is critical in my chosen field, and anything I learn in my fiction writing can be translated into my professional work. So I have solicited critique recently, wondering whether what I write gets the idea across.
In the end, though, my writing is for me. I have written quite a bit over the last 10 years that has never been saved. Temporary creation, the movement of the story. Often enjoyed by someone I write with, creating a story. It is about the story for me though.
I can't stop writing, not for very long. It burns in me, just like my drawing or music. Eventually my muse pokes me, prods me. Even if nobody ever read anything I wrote, I would still end up writing. A story would need to be told, I would have an image or an idea in my head that I would need to work through, and writing is that.
Writing is my therapy. I can be someone else, think about what I'm going through. Much cheaper than going to see a therapist, and it drives my friends less crazy. It is another way to think about something, find a way to express it, just deal with it. Or a response to something that happened, something I read, saw, heard. Maybe it's a critique in my own way, a way to say, "See, I knew I could do it better." So my writing is for me. I just give you the option to glimpse me, if you want.
That, and I have met wonderful people. I stay on Protagonize because of friends I have made, other writers I enjoy. It is a convenient way for me to write with other people and be inspired. Sometimes it even gives me an ego-boost, a little fix of accolades and recognition. Still, I'm here, writing, for me, and only sometimes for you. But always for me.