Why We Write


But isn’t it really about personal fulfillment?


If you’re a struggling writer, you’ve probably had someone say this to you. In my long and frustrating journey to publication, I heard this a number of times, usually from friends who meant to encourage me. And, yes, there have been moments when I’ve asked myself the same question. Can’t the act of creating stories be an end in itself? Process as payoff, our work shared with friends and families.

Certainly there’s joy in the process, those “yes!” moments in writing fiction, when the right image or plot development comes to us while we’re driving to the dentist or taking a walk. It’s exciting to see our characters, who begin as shadows, morph into people as real to us as a niece or co-worker. Such moments are as close to magic as this writing thing gets.

But although I love the very act of writing, I write to publish.

Vocation. Profession. Two words that originated from the Latin verbs “to call” and “to declare publicly.” Work as dialogue. Writing can and should connect us with people who share our neighborhoods, our towns, our planet, or else we work in a closet. Those of us who are writers may do the actual work in that closet or quiet space, but the truest satisfaction comes with the conversation. That, for me, is what publishing means.