Why Writing?

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I’ve been asked to share with you today the reason that I became a writer.  It’s quite simple: I had to.

It is difficult to describe the compulsion that goes along with writing, but suffice it to say, it is irresistible.  If I don’t write, the world seems overwhelming.  If I don’t write I can’t sleep at night.  If I don’t write I feel as though I’m rotting on the inside, and the only cure is releasing the stories that are biting, kicking, and shoving to get out of me.  Once they’re on paper I can breathe again.

I don’t mean to give you the wrong impression.  I love writing- in fact I adore it.  There isn’t any other profession in the world I’d rather have, but make no mistake, a writer writes because he cannot live with himself if he doesn’t.

Along the path of becoming a novelist I have had many guides, including Shakespeare, Orson Scott Card, Isaac Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and many others.  Anyone who claims to be a writer but doesn’t read… well, I would look at that individual with suspicion.  A writer who doesn’t read is like a pianist who doesn’t practice, a dancer who doesn’t listen to music, a painter who has no taste for color.  I learned how to write by reading, as did every author before me.  In reading the harrowing tales of Troy in Homer’s Illiad, feeling my chest grow tight while gripping a copy of Crichton, uttering a gasp when I understood the meaning of That Hideous Strength, and in cradling a tome of Petrarch thinking, “I am the same as you,” I decided that I wanted to affect people the way that I had been affected by great works of literature.  The pressure inside of me now made sense.  I needed to share moments like these with whoever was willing to listen.

I picked up a pen, and  I never looked back.