Bereavement, a bid to exist, a way to control an antisocial persona: why we write

why we write pauline blogWomen-Writing-Women-Box-Set-Cover_finalJPEGsmlFear not, I won’t inflict every post on you that we release for the Women Writing Women campaign, but this is one that celebrates and explores creativity. Pauline Baird Jones invited us to answer the question: why do we write?

Inevitably, this led us all to search for where we started. And here you see something we all have in common – not just the group here but all of us on this journey. Carol Cooper did it to get into the best gigs at college.  Jessica Bell did it because otherwise she felt she’d disappear. Jane Davis did it after a friend died. Kathleen Jones did it when she ran out of stories to read as a child on a remote farm. Orna Ross did it to give an overdramatic teenage personality a safe space to express. Joni Rodgers did it when blood cancer put her into isolation. And me? An overexpressive kid with something to prove, I guess, and too much shyness to be big in real life. Come over to Pauline’s blog and discover the full story.

And if you feel inclined to share, tell me here: why do you write?



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  1. #1 by Debbie Young on January 15, 2015 - 7:39 am

    I have always written ever since I could write, and if I try to analyse why I write – whether fiction, non-fiction, blogs or old-fashioned diaries – I’d say it’s to make sense of the world by processing my own experiences and turning them into something meaningful to share with others. To me it feels analogous to assembling the raw ingredients to bake a cake (important, then, to get the ingredients and the proportions right!)

    But my gut feeling is that I write because I have to write, and if I didn’t, it would all build up inside me to the point at which I would eventually explode. So if anyone ever comes to my study and finds a messy avalanche of random words in the middle of the room, you’ll know what’s happened…

    • #2 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 15, 2015 - 8:15 pm

      Hi Debbie! What a hysterical idea, the detonating writer! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. #3 by Julie Holmes, author on January 15, 2015 - 3:11 pm

    Like Debbi, I’ve written as long as I can remember, and I write because I have to. And if I don’t, I get grumpy, anxious, and not fun to be around. I’m not sure if I would explode though–probably too messy to try it 🙂

    • #4 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 15, 2015 - 8:16 pm

      Hi Julie! Yes, I think Debbie put it very well. Another writer I know said: ‘it sorts me out’, and the simplicity of that statement says it all.

  3. #5 by sharonhughson on January 15, 2015 - 9:03 pm

    I started writing because it was a make believe world where i could go and have power to make things better. My first “book” was a mystery written in a spiral notebook. I was 9.
    Later, written words kept me from drugs (or other destructive behaviors) when I needed to escape the ugliness that was my parents’ marriage. Eventually, they divorced, and I needed a reprieve from my step family. So, I want to write stories that offer that sanctuary to others who can’t find one in their “real” world.

  4. #7 by DRMarvello on January 16, 2015 - 12:50 am

    As a teen, I wrote journal entries to deal with my feelings and to explore ideas. I wrote stories around the Dungeons & Dragons adventures I created to give my fellow players something more than a hack-and-slash experience. In college, I considered a path toward creative writing, but my instructors made it clear that genre fiction was lowbrow stuff that wouldn’t be tolerated (thus killing my interest). I discovered a knack for technical writing and went the non-fiction path instead, getting a lot of satisfaction out of helping others solve problems.

    Now, I write fiction as a way to entertain myself and to fight against the current trend toward dark, violent, gory, and depressing fantasy. I write what I like to read, and I’m pleased to report that I’m not the only one who still likes fantasy adventure with a happy ending.

    • #8 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 16, 2015 - 7:06 am

      Hello Daniel! You’ve commented so often here I feel I know you well anyway, but it’s great to get your origin story. Thank you.

    • #9 by DRMarvello on January 16, 2015 - 2:20 pm

      Yeah, I guess I do comment here a lot. Your blog is one of the few I follow these days. That probably makes me a Roz Morris fan boy. 😉

      In 2016, I’ll finally get a chance to see what your neck of the woods looks like. My wife and I will be visiting the UK, staying near Oakham in Rutland. It will be my first visit to Europe.

      • #10 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 16, 2015 - 7:17 pm

        If only Oakham was remotely near London… Dave and I went there once. It’s a charming place. Also look out for the Kinema in the Woods. And thanks for the great compliment 🙂

  5. #11 by Allan Wilson on January 16, 2015 - 11:53 am

    Why I write? What a great question, I guess I should have asked myself that before I started writing in the first place. Perhaps the honest answer is that I’m adrift at sea and could drown at any minute and about nine months ago a grabbed hold of a piece of flotsam that had the word “writer” on it and held on tight. I have no idea whither it will keep me a afloat, or where it might take me but I won’t let go, I can’t let go otherwise I’ll drown. I have no control of the destination or the eventual outcome I’m scared! I have always been in control; at least I tricked myself into thinking that I was in control. Now I’m in uncharted waters. How did I get here?

  6. #13 by courseofmirrors on January 16, 2015 - 2:00 pm

    Thanks. Lovely to find poignant resonances and irreverent justification for that gripping madness – writing.

    Can’t seem to log in to Pauline’s site.

    • #14 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 16, 2015 - 7:15 pm

      Ashen, Pauline’s site worked for me when I tried it just now. Maybe you hit it at a hiccup moment? But thanks for joining in – and I hope you get to read the full piece.

  7. #15 by Deborah on January 16, 2015 - 8:12 pm

    I had the most clichéd reasons to write as a kid – to hide through fantasy worlds from an unhappy blah blah blah. Then, as I aged, my reasons grew pedantic. My passion for my academic research wasn’t shared by the whole world. Imagine that. Not everyone wanted to read my research. How shocking was that? But, my mind warped through too many hours at academic conferences calculated, if I fictionalized my research and made my protagonist one of what I am, then maybe the whole world will see how fascinating my research really is. And, you know what, my novel suffers as a result. So, back to the editing, taking out the prosaic academic abstract claptrap and trying to find the human protagonist underneath the heavy-handed message I intend to inflict on – well – the whole world, I guess. Don’t look for this novel on the bookshelf anytime soon. But, here’s the really amazing thing: as I humanize my protagonist, I’m becoming a better teacher and person myself. So, I guess I needed to write fiction to learn how to talk like a real live girl.

  8. #17 by S.E.May on January 20, 2015 - 6:38 am

    I was ten when I wrote my first book and my friends brought it for 5c a chapter. I wrote it because I was terribly bored in the classroom and stifled by the creative writing borders that were placed on me. I secretly wrote in a little note book a story about a hermit who lived in the stationary cupboard. The 5 cents per chapter didn’t hurt.

    I think I’m still writing for some of the same reasons. We are often hemmed in with rules and obligations but writing can take us away from all of that. There are no boundaries.

    • #18 by Roz Morris @Roz_Morris on January 20, 2015 - 7:05 pm

      ‘Hemmed in and stifled by boundaries…’ yes, I can relate to that. Indeed, I remember a point at school where we were told it was no longer acceptable for us to write stories as essays in English. For the English language O level essay paper, there was a selection of topics – a story, a factual debate, an account of a family holiday etc. I always chose the story, but one day the teacher said: ‘Nobody should pick the story option because it’s hard to do them well.’ I ignored him; indeed I was outraged. Writing the story option did me no harm as I got grade A. Rules indeed….

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