For Writing and Life: Why are You Here?

In the TV show Babylon 5 there are four questions that are central to the series’ theme, and that are asked by different characters throughout the story: Who are you? What do you want? Why are you here? Where are you going?

In this blog series, I want to cover each question individually – what it means to me, and what it means to you. If you’re a writer (or pursuing a creative passion of any sort), I think these questions are especially important.

As a writer (and reader) of fantasy tales, I believe that one of the strengths of the genre is to give us a new and deeper way of looking at reality. The best fantasy always points to the truth. And so, I ask this question:

Why are you here?

I believe that every person was created for a specific purpose. Whether you share the belief of a loving Creator with divine intent, or you believe humanity’s presence is more random, most people agree that to feel fulfilled in life, you should try to find your purpose.

Destiny, choice, or a combination of both – the details don’t actually matter that much. I believe what matters is your pursuit of your purpose or calling. Or the pursuit of discovering your purpose.

“Why are you here” builds upon knowing the answers to the previous questions discussed in this series. If you know who you are and what you want – or are actively learning and discovering these answers about yourself – then it follows that you may soon understand why you are here.

The journey

Discovering your purpose is a valid life pursuit. If you’re a writer or other creative type, you’ve probably been on this journey of self-discovery most of your life. What I find sad is that so many people believe that they are accidents or mistakes and have nothing of value to contribute to the world, and so they never even try to discover who they are, what they want, or why they are here. Who’s to say that your journey of discovery itself isn’t your purpose? You can grow as a person and add value to the world all along the way.

In Babylon 5, some of the character actively engage in the journey of self-discovery more than others, but all of the main characters pursue their purpose – even if they don’t know that they are. The characters of Sinclair and Sheridan, who both commanded the Babylon 5 station, have destiny and purpose thrust upon them. Zathras lays out their callings as “The One Who Was” and “The One Who Will Be” in the episode “War Without End, part 2.”

But it’s still up to Sheridan and Sinclair to walk out their journeys. Sheridan doesn’t know everything that’s involved in being The One Who Will Be – what he’ll have to do, have to sacrifice, or what the results might be. Still, he decides to embrace this destiny, and he continues to do what he believes is right, for himself and his world; and he uncovers his purpose more and more with each step.

It’s your choice

Even if you have an idea about what your purpose is, you can choose to ignore it. The capacity of free will gives us that right.

Londo Mollari is one of the most tragic characters of the series, largely due to the choices he makes involving his purpose. Right from the beginning of the story, Londo knows the answer to the question of “Why are you here?” He believes he has a destiny to do great things – great things for himself, for the Centauri empire, and for all of history.

He does accomplish great things that change the course of history, but not in a positive way. Londo willingly makes choices that propel him to the greatness of an architect of disasters. In his journey of self-discovery, he finds himself to be a guilty, weak, and broken man.

Your choices, more than anything, I believe, determine your destiny. If you know why you are here, then pursue that calling with wisdom. If you don’t know, then choose to begin the journey of discovering.

Why are you here?

“You’re not embracing life, you’re fleeing death… Your friends need what you can be when you are no longer afraid, when you know who you are and why you are, and what you want. When you are no longer looking for reasons to live, but can simply be. … It’s easy to find something worth dying for. Do you have anything worth living for?” -Lorien, “Whatever Happened to Mr. Garibaldi?”

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Keep the purpose in mind

I’m a firm believer in writing just for the sake of writing. Writing what’s on your heart. Writing for yourself first and foremost, and never mind if anyone ever reads it or likes it.

These are all valid reasons to write and should never be ignored or abandoned. But if you want to move on to the next step—like getting published, entering a contest, or writing a blog—you need to have a goal in mind.

I’m hardly an expert in any of these areas—though I do have a few months’ worth of blogging under my belt now, at least. But all of my current writing endeavors have a purpose behind them.

I’m still writing what’s in my mind and my heart. I’m still writing for myself and writing what I want to read. But now, I’m starting to write for others, as well.

I started this blog with the intent of it serving a two-fold purpose—to share my (limited) writing knowledge and experience with other budding writers, and to share my own personal writing journey and ideas and inspirations.

Even if your blog is truly nothing more than a personal journal that you’re willing to share with the world, chronicling your hopes and fears and daily activities, that’s fine. If that’s your purpose and that’s what you’re doing, then you’re walking the path you set for yourself and accomplishing your goal.

If you want to get a story published one day, then whenever you work on that story, keep that goal in mind. If you’re still working on your first draft, there’s no need to worry about tight sentences, correctly-spelled words, and such—that will come in the editing phase. And if your goal is to get published, then yes, there needs to be an editing phase. Probably more than one. Keep that goal in mind as you write and as you edit.

If you’re writing a story for a contest, or for entry into an anthology or e-zine or something similar, remember that as you write. What is the plot/content supposed to be, or what’s the maximum word count? Again, some of these details can be hammered out during editing, but keeping the goal in mind during the first draft can make the whole process more streamlined.

Write for fun, and write what you love. But if you dream of sharing your work, selling your work, growing as a writer—don’t forget that as you write. Focusing on your purpose will keep you on that road.

What’s your purpose with your writing?