Friday, February 14, 2014

 Why I Write…

In response to a recent blog post by Laurel Regan (who continues to inspire me at Alphabet Salad), here are some of the reasons why I write.

I write out of my love for stories and for language.

I think I was born loving stories and remember from an early age being captivated when my mother would read to me.

My love of language, its sounds and rhythms, was also formed early in my life through Dr. Seuss’s books and Rudyard Kipling’s Just-So Stories (“the great grey-green greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees…”).

I write out of my need to create.

I think all of us have a need to be creative and that we do it in untold numbers of ways, whether we have and raise children, plant gardens, take photos, style our own or other people’s hair, knit, or tinker with cars. Writing is the one creative endeavor that I think I’m good at.


I write because I express myself much better that way.

I’m pathologically shy and reserved, and I find it hard a lot of the time to talk to people and to get the words to come out of my mouth the way they are in my head. In college my teachers praised my papers, but asked me why I didn’t say more in class. As an introvert, I need time to construct my thoughts, and writing gives me that time.


I write to lose myself in other people’s lives and to give myself a place to go that’s all mine.

Writing, like reading, is a great way to get out of your own perspective and into those of others.


I write to explore the mysteries of the human mind.

No subject fascinates me so much as this: the unknowability of the mind and soul, the secrets we all contain that we may not even be aware of ourselves. I love getting inside a character’s mind and experiencing with him or her—particularly characters who struggle with obsessions, passions, or some kind of mental illness.


I write because it’s challenging.

Sometime people assume that, because we can write, it must be easy for us to write. Nothing could be further from the truth. The best writers make it look easy by concealing the hard work they do. When you read a good novel, you have no idea how many rewrites the writer went through, how much thinking, rethinking, planning, improvising, changing plans, eliminating characters and creating new ones, cutting dialogue, and so forth. All of these things are part of the writer’s search for the perfect way to say what she or he wants to. It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s a journey well worth taking—even if we’re the only ones who ever read our writing. And writing is something you can always get better at! I hope to be writing—and learning—till the end of my life.


I write because it’s stimulating.

Writing keeps the mind active. When I’m not actually writing, I think about writing: about characters and plot situations, about how to develop a new idea, about where in my long-lingering novel manuscript I want to go next. It keeps my mind busy when exercising or taking a shower or doing housework. And there’s that rush when you realize you’ve just written something that’s exactly right!


I write to make things come out the way I want them to.

Which, as Woody Allen once said, is awfully hard to do in life.







  1. We've discussed many of these reasons over the years but it was wonderful to see them listed here. Everything you write evokes an emotion or thought in me. The last reason is probably the best one of all. Thanks for sharing my friend.

    1. Amy, I know you have many of the same feelings I do. It's so wonderful to have a creative outlet, isn't it? Thanks so much for your lovely comment, and let's keep on writing!

  2. Writing is more fun than reading because you can totally control characters as if you are their God.


    1. Great observation, Joyce! It does give us a kind of power, doesn't it?

  3. This is a fantastic and thought-filled post, Elaine - I really enjoyed getting a glimpse into your reasons for doing what you do. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks to you again, Laurel, for your constant inspiration! Okay if I name you my unofficial muse?