Why do you write?

I was kind of amazed when my local NaNo group asked me to contribute a pep-talk for this mad month of mayhem. Technically, this was my first request as an author! It made me all warm and fuzzy inside. 😀 The problem was that I had absolutely no idea what to write. But, in the end, that’s what helped the most.

Here it is, posted for you to read and for me to remember.

“Why do you write?”
It’s a question authors get asked a lot. What always amazes me is when people can provide an answer that makes sense.
“Why do you write” is like asking, “Why do you breathe?” I write because it keeps me sane. I write because I like telling stories. Because it connects me to other people. Because reading has always inspired me and I want to bring other people the same feelings I had when reading my favorite books growing up. I write because. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. And sometimes it’s as complicated.
National Novel Writing Month seems to be a point of contention in the writing world. It as though you’re either one hundred percent for it or against it. Until last year, though I supported the idea of NaNo, I’d never participated. I’d written 50,000 words in a month before, but always when I had a lot of free time and was driven by a heavy dose of inspiration. In 2011, I realized on November 2nd that I had already set myself the goal of a book in a month. I was supposed to be turning two short stories into a single novel and I wanted to finish it by December.
Hard, but not impossible. I wanted to do it. I wanted to write. Because. Just because. Did I hope this story would one day be published? Sure. Okay, definitely. I did. I had hopes. But what really drove me through the month of November was the question that should (hopefully) drive every reader: What happens next?
I joined NaNo and found a community of fantastic people all working toward the same goal. I found support and people who could empathize when I wanted to toss my computer through a window because this minor character I threw into the mix suddenly wouldn’t go away. We all toiled away with computers or pens and paper and got closer to our goal word by word. Some of us reached it before the first of December, some of us didn’t, but we all felt better knowing there was an entire community behind us.
I went forth into the world at the end of November with a book to show the world. Not that it was ready to show the world, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I did what they always tell you you shouldn’t do and dove straight into edits. I filled in little pieces I’d left blank the first time around. I added voice where before there was just narration. I fleshed out my characters even more and tried to foresee where the story would go from here. I took advice from an author and entered some contests for unpublished manuscripts because you can’t win if you don’t enter, right? I sent it to readers, held my breath, and edited some more. And then things started happening.
Now this book was not the first I had sent out into the world. It was the third I’ve ever finished and the second to see daylight. But this one actually had legs. I won an award. And then I sold the book to Spencer Hill Press this summer. And guess what? I’m going right back in. Writing, editing, sending to readers, holding my breath, editing some more.
Whether you’re one day hoping to see your book on a bookshelf—or, you know, Amazon’s shelves—or plan on hiding your words away in a filing cabinet or hard drive, the important thing is that you’re here. Trying. You’re putting words down and recording your thoughts and dreams and characters and stories. You’re expressing the thoughts that drive you. You’re answering the call that drives you to create and you’re joining the rest of the NaNo community in reaching for the seemingly impossible goal of 50,000 words in a month. But you can do it. And at the end of the month you can look back and know that, even if you didn’t hit that mark you still have part of a story that didn’t exist before.
So, now I only have one question to ask: Why do you write? 

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