Writing Wednesdays: Why Write? 04.18.2012

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.

Age of Imagination by Carmen Medlin

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?

***

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