Writing Wednesdays: Why Write?
By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez
Authorship is a fantasy, a dream of most aspirants. It’s a glittering notion, a mirage with their name on the title page. – William Targ, Indecent Pleasures, 1975
It’s a different story for everyone. Literally.
I began to write stories as soon as I learned how to read and write. I’ve often written about when I first learned how to read: I was six-years-old. And I loved words. Not necessarily speaking them, but deciphering their letters, writing them down.
My father practiced a strict code of writing discipline with me. Every evening I sat at the dining table and patiently and carefully wrote out my ABC’s—line by line. And I would not leave that dining table until my father was satisfied with my penmanship.
Seems harsh perhaps, but I credit my father’s discipline for the penmanship I have now. And the birth of my love of writing.
Words had become to me, a secret arsenal of pleasurable code that I could string together to make what were first only images and ideas in my imagination into something real and tangible in someone else’s mind. For an eight-year-old, that’s a lot of power. For a woman in her 30’s, it’s a privilege and a gift.
I was a kid. I wasn’t aspiring to be anything. I had seeds of stories that lay dormant in my young, unfertilized brain.
In grade three, I wrote my first public short story and entered it in a writing contest. I was eight-years-old and wrote a four-page story about a boy who was locked in the basement and came out as an old man. I won first prize.
The award itself was a first-place “ribbon” made of construction paper. Still, it held for me the recognition of something well done.
As an extremely introverted and shy girl, I dreaded speaking in front of the class, but because of my award, I was asked to read my story aloud as instructed by my teacher, Mrs. Lang. As I read, I found a screen of protection and empowerment behind the language of my story. Its “voice” had become my own and its “otherness” transformed me into an orator, a storyteller.
I wrote because I enjoyed it.
I was compelled by the word.
Why else do it other than an inexplicable compulsion? The innate desire?
And so, when the weight of self-doubt far outweighs the desire to pick up a pen or when my internal critic curses at me before bulldozing me into a corner of self-pity and rejection—I return to that desire and remember my first love.
What practical things do you do to encourage yourself in your writing?
What encouraging advice can you give to other writers?