To be a writer is to be an outsider, never 100% part of the group, always watching, weighing, thinking 'how does this read as a scene?’ To be a writer is to be objective for the most part—if you want your fiction to be believable, your non-fiction to be taken seriously. To be a writer is to be a scavenger, letting nothing pass, go, disappear or die.
I remember reading something once, by another writer--can't remember his (her?) name—about how he'd stopped writing. He'd become appalled by the way he was using everything, every fight, every joy, every tragedy in his life. He'd come to find he didn't like himself, come to think of himself as some kind of scavenger or vampire or parasite--I don't remember exactly. But that's the gist.
I don't feel that way. Learning to write gave me—for the first time in my life—some purpose for the obsessive habit I’ve had since childhood of standing outside myself and observing—my own feelings and ideas as well as other people's. Learning to write put my habit of analyzing every encounter and social exchange to good use. As a child, I thought I was abnormal in these traits—and I was. But as I discovered other artists, I found that this abnormality is ubiquitous.
That’s my take anyway. Are you a professional voyeur? Does it ever make you feel guilty?