Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why Do We Write What We Write?

If you’re a writer, do you know why you write what you write?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Sometimes I know the answer. Sometimes I have characters who demand that I tell their story. Sometimes it’s an idea that intrigues me. Sometimes I haven’t got a clue; I just know that I have to write something.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that whether or not I consciously know where a story comes from, it will always in some way be connected to something I’m sorting through in my own life. It might be the theme of faith and honor and courage or it might be watching someone I love struggle with a difficult challenge and hurting for them. It might be how to balance self and responsibility to others or it might be the power we have within us to overcome any challenge and change our lives—if we believe we can.

I know that my experiences affect what I write. I also know—as Barbara Samuel said so eloquently in a speech a few years ago—that what I write impacts me as well.

I guess it keeps going back to that saying: It’s easy to write. Just open a vein and bleed all over the page.

Except that sometimes it’s laughing all over the page or simply embracing that connection that in our best moments we as writers have—heart to heart with those who read our words.

At least that’s how I see the answer to the question of why I write what I write. How about you? Why do you write what you write?