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Write-a-Thon, Day 5: Why I Write

Well, here we are at the end of the first week of the Write-a-Thon. I’ve been having a blast, and I have to say, I genuinely appreciate all the visits and feedback you’ve given me so far, Horde!

The following piece was originally composed for an academic project, but I’ve since tidied it up a little and, of course, updated it to (let us hope) better reflect my feelings about this thing I can’t stop doing.

And, hey, if you enjoy what you read here at Claire De Lunacy, PLEASE be sure to visit my Clarion Foundation Writer’s Page and make a donation!  Thanks!

Why I Write

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was six, I wrote and illustrated my first book, “The Brave Little Dinosaur,” with contact paper, crayons, and a rather loose understanding of saurian physiognomy. By the time I entered junior high, I was writing regularly for fun – mystery (despite a love of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, my protagonists were, at that point, more half-baked than hard-boiled), science fiction (heavy on the fiction, light on the science) and even a few movie reviews for the school paper (“Look Who’s Talking Too: Only Moderately Better Than Being Poked in the Eye with a Sharp Stick”). For reasons still unexplained, I was not invited to the High School paper, but kept up my extracurricular writing, as amazed then as I am now that entire worlds may spring to life with the application of pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). Today, I am a poet, a blogger and a novelist, and my love of writing has grown to the point that I want – perhaps need – to do the very best job at it I can, not only because I feel as though I owe it to myself, but to my works and the people who will (let us hope) read them.

I write for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s fun. Writing is a kind of alchemy, transmuting thoughts into words, preserving and protecting them. Finding just the right phrase, tinkering with a sentence or a paragraph until it you know – you are absolutely certain – that a person reading it will see what you meant them to see, hear what you meant them to hear, feel what you want them to feel – that’s a heady sensation indeed. And of course, there’s the delight inherent in sharing a story with others, no small pleasure in itself.

Writing is also a form of therapy for me. When, as The Drifters once sang, this old world starts getting’ me down, I head not for roof but my keyboard or notebook. Writing clears my mind, gathering all the fluttering butterflies of discord in the net of reason, and whether I’m writing about a young heroine’s struggle to survive on a distant planet, The Milagro Bean Field War, or the impact of Ryan Seacrest on American politics, I am drawn outside myself and, when I return, find both my peace of mind and perspective are better for it.

Finally, I write because, honestly, I don’t have a choice. There are a lot of characters with stories to tell rattling around in my noggin, and if I ignore them, they just get rowdy. Not writing is, at this point in my life, about as likely as not trying every new flavor of Doritos or not doing the Boston Globe crossword. Sure, I could do without it, but why on earth would I want to? No, the machinery in the enormous but otherwise unremarkable head is built for writing, and I plan to do it until I run out of either stories or life (somehow, I suspect the latter is the more likely)

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