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“Writers write.” It’s a two-word creed spoken by journalists and novelists and screenwriters alike, spoken from all around the world. Writers write, it’s what they do. Not because they want to, though I imagine most of them do. Not because they like to, though I can’t see why they wouldn’t. Writers write because they have to. Writers write because they have no choice.
An idea appears. Where it comes from nobody knows. Some call it a muse, some call it imagination. It never occurred to me to explain it. An idea appears out of the fog of the mind that stands like a portal to another dimension. And if the idea is a good one, it grabs on, clenches itself to the flesh of your brain like a fertilized egg to the uterine wall. And that idea won’t let go, won’t let go no matter what, won’t let go until pen hits paper and it’s evicted from the apartment of your mind with a simple combination of movement and ink.
That is why I have to write. Because if I don’t I can’t sleep at night. Because if I don’t I don’t feel complete. That is why I have to write. But I also write for the pleasure of it. I also write because I like to.
Writing, writing at its very core, is all about control. Control of your characters, control of your readers, control of the worlds you create. Everything invented in the stories you write is forever under your command. You form mountains and rivers and families and friends, and they are yours in every way. You guide them. You move them. You make them speak. Sometimes they try to tell you want they want, but ultimately the decision is yours. It’s a truly empowering experience.
The other half is control of your readers. Of their opinions, of their emotions, of their thoughts and their dreams. I’ve been writing since I was eight, even if the early results weren’t good. In all those years there’s one experience that stands out most in my mind. One occurrence that totally affirms what it is that I can do, the power that I wield with a pen.
I’d been writing non-fiction for just three or four weeks, writing for my college’s newspaper. It was a year and a half ago, my first semester, my first profile of a professor. I was fighting a deadline, so I finished it in class. As I etched the last paragraph onto my paper, as I dropped the pen to a final point, suddenly something miraculous happened. It could have been a coincidence, it could have been a mistake, but every one of my classmates got up to leave. There were fifteen minutes left in class, but the atmosphere was one of finality. The air had the feel of completion. And even if it was all in my mind, that is the most powerful experience I’ve ever had. It affected me in a way you wouldn’t believe, because there was a chance, just a chance, that I had made them think class was over. That is what I get from writing.
I can’t say I’ll give anything back. I can’t say I’ll change anyone’s life. But I won’t have a chance unless people see what I do. That’s my goal for my career. To show people the ideas that come through the portal, to show them the babies that grow from my brain. To give them the chance to decide what they think, and maybe, just maybe, to change someone’s life. I’ll never know unless I try.