Why I Write
Before I started to write, I was an avid reader. That must’ve been a great relief to my parents, since I was, shall we say, a stubborn child since an early age. But at some point, I took the time to sit down and read a book, and as they say, the rest was history. I was just excited about going to the bookstore than I was to go to Toys R Us.
I think the first book to really leave an impression on me was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. It’s a story about a boy who manages to save up enough money to buy two hunting dogs, which he then trains and enters a hunting competition. I’m not sure if it was the protagonist that seemed to be so much like me or the heart-wrenching ending, but that book was really made me think. Not just think, but think, if you know what I mean. I had read it again just to get the story out of my mind.
I remember thinking how strange it was that a story that wasn’t real could affect me so much. I felt both excited and disappointed, both happy and sad, all while reading a book. How was that possible?
Then the book Eragon by Christopher Paolini came along, opening my mind to even more possibilities. And not just because it had magic and dragons, but because it was written by someone who was younger, not much older than I was at the time. Then I learned that I could not only read stories like these, but I could also write them too if I wanted.
My first foray into writing was a collection of short stories about a travelling marshmallow who (I think) was named Johnny. I say, “short story,” but flash fiction is probably the more correct term, since I believe each one was only a page long. All of them had the same general plot structure: Johnny the marshmallow would come across some sentient food item that had a problem, solve it, and then leave. At least I didn’t drag it out, huh? I wish I still had them, as I’m sure that they were quite awful, despite not knowing or even caring when I wrote them. Writing in and of itself was enough for me at the time.
Sometime later, my parents enrolled me in a creative writing summer class that was primarily focused on poetry. I learned that poetry was a way to express and organize emotions that I didn’t want to or know how to talk about, and it was something that I’ve gone back to time and time again to work out those pesky feelings. Poetry was one of the ways that I managed to win over my wife Grace, and she always encouraged me to keep up with it whenever I could.
But it wasn’t until much later that I decided that I wanted to become an author, around senior year of high school after taking – you guessed it – a creative writing class. I remember thinking, “man, wouldn’t it be cool to write a book and, like, have people read it?” I promise I wasn’t high or anything at the time. But it was then that I realized that I wanted to express emotions and share them with others through storytelling. A desire to invoke what I was feeling through a constructed narrative. Over time, that simple desire has only deepened, and I look forward to the day where I can work full-time as a novelist.
But of course, there are some challenges that come from a motivation that is based on validation from others. For one, it’s hard for me to feel satisfied about my own work without feedback from someone else. That’s something that became more obvious to me as my wife read through my first book and told me about the things that she liked in it, because only then did I actually feel good about the story. And yeah, maybe that’s only natural since we all love to be praised and complimented, but… I don’t know, I wish that I could feel good about my work on my own, you know?
Because, at the end of the day, I want to create worlds and have adventures in them, no matter what. Even if I was 80 years old and still unpublished, I think I would still want to write.
Therefore, I need to find the validation I’m looking for from within, so I don’t get discouraged and give up along the way. Writing is a long and hard journey, but I know that it’s the one for me. Actually, I think the difficulty is what makes it so satisfying!
Feel free to share your own writing journey in the comments below. What motivates you to keep going? Or what are you working towards? Here’s a neat quiz I found that might you understand your motivations as a writer and share your results below! (https://quiz.tryinteract.com/#/60ae0f2737757a0017bc8972)
Anyways, thanks for reading!