Angela Dawson

Picture this: a country-pop obsessed thirteen-year-old girl with a slight perm, unnecessary reading glasses, and a habit of treating her books like people. Needless to say, this was me in a nutshell.

During the first half of eighth grade I was briefly living in New Zealand with some family members, one being my Aunt—whose angelic spirit embraced everything quirky in this world (including me). Throughout my time there, she was working on writing a novel, and I thought, huh, you can do that? This marked the beginning of a gradual epiphany. I had finally found writing. Or rather, it found me at the perfect moment. I could go cliché all the way and say: ‘I write to live, I live to write,’ but I’ll just stick with the timing. For the outcast girl always needs more hobbies.

I began developing what I remember to be boring tales that resembled my own life, sometimes even dabbling in something sci-fi or post-apocalyptic related. Word documents and shabby journals started filling up, and I was hooked. I strove to create a personal experience for anyone who read these stories, just like the ones I so fanatically absorbed in my youth. I imagined someone leaving saltwater stains on the pages I wrote, or throwing my book across a room out of passionate anger. But in the long run, however much I pictured my audience, the words I wrote were for myself.

Writing was a missing piece to the puzzle that made up my identity. Let’s be clear, I’m far from completing the entire puzzle, but this piece was a giant one. A strange bell had gone off and something unspoken was eating at me from the inside out. That is, until the remedy of words satisfied it. Writing became my sanctuary. I healed a little with each story, each poem. To this day it’s a source of comfort or humor when I find my life collapsing from under me like thin ice, which it seems to do quite frequently.

Back then my newfound passion tamed the mental chaos that was surfacing. Such creativity kept it at bay. It felt like a gift I wasn’t worthy of, but was most definitely ready for. From then on I’ve always found it extraordinary how writers are able to articulate the complex feelings humans inhabit in this tangled mess of a world.

I’d like to think my thirteen-year-old self would be proud knowing I hadn’t given up on her vision, but also that with each story we gained a new piece of ourselves we didn’t know was there. For there is wonder in the ability to illustrate what we endure—the pain and all—and make magic from it.



When the task of writing grows inevitably arduous—and seemingly thankless—we must remember why we started. Inspired by George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Why I Write,” this introspective project highlights our motives for writing. Share your story and join the conversation. Live events are produced throughout the diverse cities of Orange County and feature author readings from curated essay submissions.

  1. Write a 500-word essay explaining why you write.
  2. Submit via Submittable.