Monday, January 18, 2010

Why We Write

I've just finished my last day in a short interim course on writing & publishing, lead by Travis Thrasher. He's a great teacher and it's great to take a class on these things where a writer is the teacher instead of just another professor who is saying what he's told to say. Thrasher worked in publishing and he is now a full-time writer, so it's great to get that sort of insight.

I was just looking through Thrasher's blog, The Journey is Everything & I came across an entry from the beginning of this year about why he writes. I thought it was a really great post and I share a lot of his reasons.

You can read Travis Thrasher's post here, and I recommend looking through the rest of his blog as well, there's plenty of tips for writers to be found there.

What are my own personal reasons for writing?
Whenever I'm asked this question, or why I'm writing a particular project, I think back to something Madeleine L'Engle once said. "You have to write the book that wants to be written." I have always identified with that quote* and I think it really applies here. I could write a novel on any subject you want to give me, but it wouldn't be mine. I write because I have new stories within me, just waiting to be told. Stories that are just busting to get out and onto the page. I write because I have a story to tell.

And I write because it's what feels right and what makes sense in my life. I am not about to pretend that my life is all sunshine and daisies right now--nor has it ever really been--but in spite of all of that, writing makes sense. And it's somewhere I can work out my real life problems, even just in small ways. My characters are not me, and the stories I tell are not my memoirs, but everything I write has a piece of me in it. Moreover this is a reason I write Young Adult fiction, because I feel that in YA you can work through different problems than you can in adult literature. Which reminds me of another quote from literary agent Kate Schaffer (aka Daphne Unfeasible): "I don't believe that most teens think their lives are "normal and uneventful." I think every moment is fraught with anxiety & excitement." I feel like that's true also, and therefore I can fit most of that into my books, and if it helps me, great, if others can identify with it and it can maybe help them also, even better.

I write to satisfy my curiosity & to explore all of the "what if"s in life. I can't get rid of all of the world's air travel in real life, but I can write about what would happen if that were to occur. I can't give myself a horrible fatal disease (and still be alive to write about it afterwards), but I can write about it. Life is full of "what if"s, and I write to see what would happen.

And, like Thrasher, I write to say the things I wish I could say and do the things I wish I could do.

That's why I write, and so I'm curious, what about you? For all the writers out there--serious or recreational--what makes you write?

*And the second part where she says "And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children,” but that's a whole other topic for another blog.

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