I’d like to know why you write. I’ll tell you why I write.
First and most importantly, I don’t write to cope with the voices in my head and nor do I write because my life depends on it and I have this incredibly deeply-held need to write or I’ll go nuts.
That’s just silly. Honestly, that has so little to do with storytelling, in my opinion, that I just feel like slapping people who say it. Or at least chortling superiorly while pointing.
I write because I love stories. I read Bridge to Terabithia when I was a kid, along with all of the Black Stallion books and everything else I could find that had horses. I devoured them. The truth is that when I was a young’un, my life was mostly about finding uninterrupted hours to read. Sure, I got out and played, but reading was the numero uno activity for me.
But when I read Bridge to Terabithia, I found myself transported and moved more than ever before. Sure, I essentially learned to ride a horse by reading Walter Farley’s excellent descriptions of Alec on the Black’s back, but this was different. A very strong emotional reaction had been caused in me and I found myself pondering friendship, death, grief, and family.
Soon after finishing that book, I discovered a desire to do the same thing to other people. I wanted to manipulate their emotions, control them, make them feel what I told them to feel. That’s right, I wanted to be an emotional tyrant. I wondered if I had the ability to craft words that would move people; I wondered if I could learn to do so.
So I decided to try writing stories. And I fell in love with imagining people in difficult situations who rise above themselves and struggle through awful things to become a better person and effect change in their world. And I wrote stories. I wrote poetry because I spent four years nurturing a very long-distance crush on a cute Scottish girl. I think now that maybe I loved the accent more than the girl.
Today I write because it is a challenge that I love. When I’m in the throes of a good story, with powerful and vibrant scenes blasting onto my paper and with characters teaching me about themselves, I feel complete on a deep level. I feel focused and… right.
And honestly, I write because I am naturally a pretty good writer and I have some pretty good stories to tell– and I want people to read them and love them and tell me that they love my writing. Vanity. I’ll take it. I won’t let it motivate me more than a little, but it’s there.
Why do you write? What makes you do this sometimes painful and often very difficult thing? When did you first start writing? Do you remember what got you started down this road? If you had a time machine, would you go back and undo that catalyst?