The truth is that I write music because the it's the cheapest form of therapy out there. Well, if you start buying really expensive instruments, perhaps not. But really, when it comes down to exploring your own reaction to what is going on in your life and in the world, writing music and playing it is quite a release.
I also write music because I think it is a great creative challenge. Like real mountain climbing can be -- you have to be fearless on some levels and just get it out there. Thankfully, I don't spend much time worrying about what people think or will think about my songs. This came in handy because recently I spent time at a songwriting class at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music where the other participants were really accomplished professional or semi-pro musicians and had excellent skills with a 6-string and killer voices to boot. Even in that company, every week I showed up with a new song and played what I had using my own special brand of awesome. What I learned, above most anything else in those workshops, is to not be afraid of just putting it out there. I should also note that while I don't spend much time worrying about what other people think, I do care if I get critical remarks, suggestions, changes, or ideas from my audience, because in general, that can only help improve what I'm doing.
I also write music because I want to return the favor. Let me explain: as a child I would sneak Beatles and Paul Simon vinyl records into my little red record player in my bedroom. Listening to those songs affected me deeply, and opened me to a world of experiences beyond my own. It firmly planted songs, as a form, as an important part of living life and being human. If I can affect just one person with one of my songs the way that some of the great songwriters have done for me in my life, then that result pays tremendous tribute to what music has done for me.
So to summarize, I write music because it is a cheap form of therapy, it is a huge creative challenge, and I want to return the favor.
Oh, one more thing. It makes me happy. My happy place is writing music. To quote Buddy the Elf, "It's my favorite!"