Why do you write? In today's guest post, Danielle Kelly answers this perennial question, partly in the way we would all do so - we have to.
Want to know why I write? Read to the end for the answer!
Why I write
by Danielle Kelly
In essence, I write because I can’t not write. I was that quintessential nerdy loner kid as long back as I can remember, always reading. I had absolutely no problem with my preferences, and there were plenty of other weird kids in the library with me. The reading to writing path happened to me the same as all the other kids who sucked at organized sports. The choice was attempting to catch a ball, or sit and read, and to me that was insanely easy. To give you an idea of my early devotion to reading, I have always read Crime and Punishment every time I am sick. No illness can take priority when I am trying to remember all those crazy Russian names.
As we got older, the world widened for most of my book reading friends. They chose other pursuits, but I stuck with my books. I tried many other things in my day, but I always came back to writing. I write because I have things that I want to say to people, or situations I need to work out, but I don’t want to hurt others’ feelings. I write because I hurt and feel and cry, and writing is the only way I know to make it feel better. I read a quote, and if anyone remembers who said it let me know, but they said if it isn’t terrifying you to write something it isn’t worth reading.
I read things that make me see the world differently, like Chuck Palahniuk and Matt Ruff. The first time I read Sewer, Gas, and Electric I was beyond furious. Partly because it was brilliant, and the epitome of the story I have always wanted to write. At the same time, I was terrified I might not ever get there. My favorite is getting a new edition of The Paris Review, because their interviews either redeem my faith in the literary world, or spitting mad.
I write because in doing so it is okay that I really care about the words I use. I care that although two words may be synonyms their meanings can be technically different, and I want to use the right one. It is totally okay to be way too excited over homonyms. I was going to be a grammar drill sergeant anyway, and when I write that is just fine.
When I read I see the bones that make up the story and if I really like it I want to mimic it in some way, feel what it is like to write. I read Fahrenheit 451 and think of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Then that makes me think of Brave New World, because I read those two simultaneously once and it became a whole new experience. Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing took me a year because I would read a page, and then spend the next week thinking about the implications.
I write because I have things I need to say even if I know no one will read it. I write because there is nothing better in this world than someone reading it. Without my writing I wouldn’t know how to navigate a world completely out of my control. As I am writing, the characters control the flow, but I am a happy and welcome participant. It always stunned me when my characters make choices completely unlike me. It took me so long to get past forcing my characters into a sensible existence, which I can tell you from experience is a boring read.
In my nonfiction I try my best to literally give a voice to those who feel they don’t have one. Whether real or imagined I am a conduit for a story just dying to be told. I have answered this question in a very personal way, and I don’t intend for it to be taken as my belief of requirements. Instead I hope that you enjoyed my story, and maybe even see something in common. Something that resonates, or makes you so angry you have to tell the world just how wrong it is. Either way, I hope it helps you write, or makes how you feel seem right.
A most heartfelt piece from Danielle - thank you so much for sharing it!
Why I write? My hero, Mrs Takata, taught with stories from her life. I make up stories for similar reasons.
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