“You love to write.” I’ve been told time and again. I generally retort, “I write because I have to, if I didn’t, I would explode, implode or evaporate.” I know it’s not a want or desire, but a free way to release the charged energy that my soul has collected, which feels like the static electricity of a sock stuck to a favorite shirt fresh from the dyer, a nuisance. In times of doubt, it delivered hope. In times of sadness, it delivered perspective. In times of hate, it provided love. In times of disappointment, it gave humor. In times of financial loss, it gave me wealth.
It wasn’t always a have to; it once was a want to. When I was 8, I wrote a story about a family that bought a two-story house. They heard noises in the attic, and it was obvious the house was haunted. Except it wasn’t— a great grandfather that had been left behind like an unwanted cat by the previous owners. The darkness that emerged from my 8-year-old mind won me a young author’s award and left me convinced I would be the next great American novelist.
Somewhere in my tweens, my mother began to assign essays for wrongdoings. An in-depth analytical approach to assessing the wrongs I had done, why I had done what I did, the ramification of my actions on others, and why I wouldn’t do it again. Sometimes I would do it again, and a fresh new essay would have to be written. I didn’t write because I wanted to. I wrote because I had to.
My family was enmeshed; boundaries were as effective as having cheesecloth hold a liquid. Autonomy was a flimsy structure— free and open for judgment and persecution. Writing became my shield; it was the leaded apron that protected me from the piercing x-rays that attempted to re-image my soul.
Through metaphors I could explore complicated feelings, I could relay my inner truth in similes, the words of disappointment, lust, anger, and hope crept from my mind to the black and white comp books I squirreled away under my bed. My mother would rummage through my room and flip through the pages, and tell me how wonderful they were as she was able to extract concrete meaning, instead of my synesthetic expression.
When I hit adulthood, the world with its complexity asked me to take word pictures, to capture the essence of a moment, the flittering feelings, the dashing devastation, and the moments of just waiting. Writing saved me, time, and again. With electricity that needed to be discharged, it kept me from blowing up or radiating in directions damaging to others. Transference, it was a game I could choose not to play. Instead of emotions turning into lashing whips flagellating those who were unfortunate enough to cross my path, they were transmuted into haunting or humorous words.
Why do I write? Well, it’s why I breathe— because I can …
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.