Why I Write

I hate writing. This seems like it ought to pose a problem, since I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was five years old and I have poured myself into it ever since. But the fact still stands. I hate writing. The phenomenon was once described by Thomas Mann when he said "a writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." He puts it rather mildly. Writing, for me, is agonizing. It is like Sisyphus pushing his great rock over his even greater mountain; it is the ephemeral carrot before the immortal donkey. And yet, here we are. And here I plan to stay.

When I was five years old, writing was just something else to play with, like finger-painting or baby dolls, another make-believe game. But as I grew up, my love began to morph. Writing became more fun as I became better, but it was also far more frustrating. I now had an ear for what sounded good, but no skill to write it. I knew the characters, but I didn't know the ending. Stories were supposed to mean something, but mine didn't seem to mean anything at all. Nothing felt complete; every piece hung over my head and the more I read, the more bothered I became. Eventually my mom sat me down one day in middle school. "You're taking this very seriously," she said. "But you know you don't have to do it. It's a hobby; it's supposed to be fun, right?" She meant her words lightly, but the idea never sat well with me. Writing wasn't just a hobby, it wasn't even a passion. At seventeen years old now I can name it; storytelling, for me, has always been a vocation. This is not something I do for fun or because I want to make a living off of it. I write because I cannot help but write.

Much of the process is learning how to break your own heart. As the woman behind the words, I know I must lend myself to a hundred characters, adopting their mindsets, hurting them and being hurt. People die in stories, they lose the things they've always worked for, trust is betrayed, children rebel, love is destroyed, cities razed; and as the writer, I must be corpse, murderer, winner, loser, lover, traitor, parent, child, mastermind, and victim. Some could see this as a form of insanity. Why would anyone ever want to be that caught up in a story? But I think that's what everyone really wants. Stories are what make us feel full; they give us the lens we need to see the meaning in our own lives. And if I could ever write something that made a reader feel as full as I do, I would have fulfilled the wildest dreams of my five-year-old self. So as often as there are times when I really do hate writing, I will always love to be a writer.