Why Do We Write?

Because the other half of my very small novel-writing group has The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson on her desk, I decided to dig out my copy.

Years ago when I was at sea on my draft of my novel about the further adventures of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Pearl Prynne, I read and reread The Plot Whisperer–it’s highlighted in several colors and some passages are underlined, too. Marginal notes abound. This passage from the Introduction is heavily annotated:

“My most important insight is this: All of us face antagonists and hurdles, hopes and joys, and by meeting these challenges we can transform our own lives.” (ix)

I often reflect on the question of why we write–and I think the answer is the same for why we do anything. Whether you want to apply this equation to caring for aging parents or partners, or children, or difficult friends…or a horse you can no longer ride…

Maybe it has to do simply with commitment, or maybe we suspect that there is something on the other side that we can gain only by going through it, or we know with absolute faith that where the dragons are, there also is the treasure.

“In real life, many of us shy away from disaster and drastic upheaval in order to protect ourselves from deep loss in our own lives.” (Alderson, 8)

But the truth is, there is no way to protect ourselves. I think we will, ultimately, be happier if we go out there anyway, with our hands ready and our hearts open.

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