The story of why I write begins with reading, which I began doing at the age of six. My favorite story then was “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen. By nine I was reading the Anne of Green Gables series, and that was the first time I realized that there was such a thing as a writer. I don’t think I thought about where books come from before that point. That’s when I became aware that being a writer is a thing. I began writing my own stories and poetry for fun around the age of eleven. My topics then concerned teddy bears and bare winter trees. Somewhere between junior high and high school I began to think of myself as a writer – a poet to be more precise. I had written a few poems and several even won some contests. Being part of Young Chicago Authors* (16-19 years old) was what sealed the deal for me.
So why do I write?
- Writing is a pleasurable experience, first and foremost. That does not mean I find it easy. On the contrary, writing well is a very difficult endeavor, but a pleasurable one nonetheless.
- I have something important to say. What that something is is difficult to define as I’m still in the early phases of writerhood. We can sum up my message and me in 2077 (I plan on living until at least 96 years old, and I’ll be 96 in 2077). I can write about my intentions or plans, but we all know how life works so I’d rather leave this open ended. I prefer to be judged on the sum of my work and not my intentions.
- I write to understand. I look at the world through words. I analyze and try to understand with writing. I find everything difficult to process any other way. Sometimes the only way I can understand something is if I write about it, and then often things are so clear and obvious after I’d written I wonder how I didn’t just think of it.
- The most important reason I write is my own sanity. When I don’t write, I break down, I can’t function properly. This goes back to my third reason. As you can imagine, life can become difficult pretty quickly for me if I don’t write.
Why do you write?
*Young Chicago Authors in the 1990s was a Saturday writing program for talented young inner city writers. I was lucky enough to be one of the 15 sophomores that got accepted into the program in 1997. We had “writing classes” every Saturday during which we would be given prompts and we’d just write. We could write about anything we wanted without judgment. On top of that we were cultured, which meant we went to see plays and performances. We participated in public readings of our work, various writing contests (many of which we won), and poetry slams. We also got published. The most important aspects of that program for me were the total acceptance and freedom we were given. I don’t think I had ever experienced that before then.