Writers are asked this repeatedly throughout their careers and, honestly, I’m not sure most of us can give a bottom line answer. It would be like asking a Neurosurgeon why they dedicated their professional lives to saving others’ or asking a parent why they gave up a great job to stay home and raise their children. There really is no set reason for going that way. They just do.
When I was younger, I used writing almost like a therapeutic tool to tune into and absorb myself in when things around me were too tough to deal with. I never shared my words with anyone else, though. I selfishly kept them for myself. Then one day a very close friend came across one of my stories and said, “Wow. I totally related to this. You should really let other people see your stuff.” After a lot of encouragement and waffling, I finally did.
Contrary to popular belief, most writers and authors don’t write for all the fame, fortune and glory. The unfortunate reality is that this is not as common as people may think it is. There are a few writers, several of whom are my colleagues and mentors, who have had the wonderful opportunity to experience this result of their craft. For many others of us though, we write because the ideas are there but we still keep our day jobs until our own ship comes in.
So why do I write understanding all of this? Because the stories I share may not always be award-winning or bestsellers, but they find that one person out there who needs to hear the hidden message I left behind in the pages. I write because I consider it an honor that a young person would put down their media device of choice to opt giving my words some of their time. I write because on days when I convince myself no one is out there reading my work, I get a random email from someone thanking me for my words and that they made some sort of difference in their own lives. I write because it warms my heart to see the awe and genuine interest in young people’s eyes when I read in schools, hopefully eliciting some inspiration to give their own words a chance to be read. I write because makes my children proud and they often gather around me asking millions of questions, not just about what I’m working on but also about the mechanics of writing as an art form. And I can see whatever influence I may have guides them in their own writing projects.
I no longer keep my words for myself. As my friend pointed out to me so long ago, doing so would be almost selfish because they have other places to be, and others to inspire, than just with me.
And, to me, there is no better reason than that to write.
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.
- Write a 500-word essay explaining why you write.
- Submit via Submittable.