Why write?

Why write a story“…it probably provoked me to resolve the tension I felt by telling a story.” – Jeffrey Overstreet, Through a Screen Darkly.

I read this quote the other day and it resonated so deeply with me. There have been times in my life when I can’t make sense of anything that is happening around me and often, I will take those mixed emotions and write them into a story.

I did that with one of my most recent stories, Withheld, which you can read in the Fox & Raven-SAWC anthology, which will be available soon. (The story is written under the pseudonym Caroline Mead and there is another one of mine in there called The Salesman. Did I mention, it’s free?) The original catalyst for the emotion is not obvious but the emotion behind it is. If not for that story (and many other like it) I might have gone mad.

I have often wondered why I write stories. I know some people just want to entertain but I think I tend to write to make sense of my world; to express my outrage, my absolute wonder, my ache, my delight, my grief. Often no one else would ever be able to tell what event in my life sparked my stories – the stories are not literal manifestations of the emotion but rather an echo or ripple or shadow that holds the emotion in a strange tension between fantasy and reality.

Once again, I am at a stage in my life where sketching things seems to help me calm my mind and let me mull over story ideas while doing something other than writing… and this one helped me to think about this idea of story and why we – not just writers but all artists, telling stories in their own mediums – are compelled to tell them.

This weekend I happened upon a few hours to myself (a rare thing in a working mother’s life) and I was nervous about sitting down to write. Lately nothing has been coming out and I feared the blinking cursor on the white screen. But this time – thanks to some encouragement from friends – I started typing and a story came out. It felt so very right. That is also why I write, because when I do, and the words come, I feel as though there is nothing in the world I would rather be doing.

I would love to know why you write stories… weigh in folks.

Whatever the reason, keep writing.


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