Why I Write: On Being a Writer

One of the first clear memories I have is of reading.

When I was about four years old I went through that “why?” phase that so many children have, and my parents well almost always, without fail, would try to entertain my inquisitive mind with their simplified version of answers. It was all very exciting back then; first came the ABC song and then learning how to string letters together.

It’s a small step to go from reading to writing.  I remember being very young – maybe four or five – and I would always found myself writing on anything that was within my reach, from my parents’ work diaries, to the walls in the house, even serviettes in restaurants. As long as mom always had that pen she always kept in her handbag, then I was sorted.

I filled those pages and surfaces with painstakingly etched words.  They weren’t so much stories back then; more like me stretching my writer’s wings.  I tested sentences out, and before long I realised I could string together those sentences into one cohesive paragraph.

That’s the beauty about writing I learnt years later. Creating something out of nothing, even if it’s just scribbles, there’s potential to give life to something that was plain and dull.

I still didn’t make the connection between writing those sentences and paragraphs with story creation.  I was too busy reading books to think of writing my own.

Third grade brought with it promise; I learned double-digit multiplication, and more importantly, I was introduced to the idea of writing stories of my own.

My third grade teacher wanted us to write something.  A short story, she said.  I’d done those assigned short ‘essays’ before, of course, but I had never once thought that actual stories were within my own reach.  That was something other people did.

Suddenly a whole huge world was open to me.

I won’t lie, I’ve had my fair share of uninspiring times in my so-called writing career, times when I thought that I must be the most untalented writer in the English speaking world.  It’s always the same routine.  I tell myself I’ll never do it again, then something awakens my imagination and it’s like a tick burrowing into my consciousness.  The only way to get rid of it is to burn it onto the page and find a way to tell that story to whoever will gather round and listen.

So for me, it’s a break even.  I write because I love to read my words on paper, just like I love reading others’ words on paper.  I also write because of the hope. The hope that something amazing will happen to you, something life-altering. Whatever it is, we know that we’ll never be the same after it happens.

Why do I write?  You might as well ask me why do I have hopes, or dreams?  Why do I breathe?  The answer is very clear – I write because I am human.


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