Why do I write? This is a somewhat complicated question. I have many reasons for why I write, and I can’t pick any of the reasons over the others as the answer to the question. So, I guess I’ll start from the beginning. I loved reading as a kid. The best part was getting the chance to live hundreds of lives in books. I could be anything I wanted to be if there was a book to be read. The first book series I remember falling in love with was Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. I spent months pretending to be in this fantastical, and dangerous, world full of human sized rats, and bats large enough to ride. If I remember correctly, that was the beginning of my imaginary world starting to dive into books I read and movies I watched. In my imaginary world, I often joined main characters in their wild adventures, and sometimes I’d take the characters on my own adventures. In short, reading helped to develop my imagination, and allowed me to create my own fantastical world.
I didn’t think about becoming a writer as a kid. I thought I would never get the chance to publish anything, or even come up with a good enough story for a book. I had story ideas, but I never thought they were good enough to write and show to the world. It wasn’t until I read Carrie by Stephen King that I started playing with the idea to become a writer. I was a huge fan of Stephen King in middle and high school. Carrie was the gateway book for me. The story is good, but the book wasn’t what sparked the idea that I might become a writer. It was learning the story behind the book the sparked the idea. See, King wrote a chapter or two telling a story of a high school girl who was raised by a super religious, and abusive mother. However, King threw away the pages, thinking he could never finish the story because he didn’t know how to write from a female perspective. His wife, Tabitha, found the pages when she was cleaning one day and told King he needed to finish the story because she needed to know what else happened. He finished the book with Tabitha’s help, and the book became his first published novel.
When I learned this, I couldn’t believe that Stephen King, someone who has written more than eighty books, almost gave up writing. I wondered if Tabitha hadn’t been there to support him, would he have become such a prolific writer. That was when I realized that it might be possible for me to write my own books, as long as I had someone to support and believe in me when I wasn’t able to believe in myself. By the end of middle school, I was starting to compile notes of the imaginary world I created. I told my dad about trying to write the story I had swimming in my mind, and he encouraged me to write it. I remember spending many nights talking animatedly about my story with him in the garage. I’m so thankful for his support for believing in me at the very beginning of my developing dream to become a writer.
Which leads me to my next reason of why I write. I was able to keep the momentum up with my story because of a few teachers during high school. My dad still believed in me, but sometimes doubt overwhelmed me and I would think he was only saying nice things about my writing because he’s my dad and he has to say nice things to me. At least, that’s what I told myself. So, when I got into my sophomore year in high school, I was thankful to hear praise for the short story assignment I wrote. Looking back on it now, I can see how bad the short story was, but I remember writing most of it the night before it was due and still getting an A for it. I remember reading the comments from my teachers and feeling like I could write anything I set my mind to. Flash forward to senior year and I’m in my college writing course. The teacher for this class was amazing. She gave us so much freedom to write and had us write daily journals to help keep our writing juices flowing. She easily became my favorite teacher. So, it meant it even more when our writing prompt one day was to write anything we wanted, and I read her comment afterwards. I wrote a description of a sunset on the ocean from the perspective of a woman aboard a wooden ship. I remember the scene so vividly, even to this day I still think back on it with such clarity it feels like I’m right there with the woman. My teacher’s comment was short, but it was, and still is, so meaningful to me. She simply wrote, “Amira, you have incredible talent.” Her comment was all I needed to be certain that I had the potential to be a writer.
Again, doubt overwhelmed me when I started college. I wasn’t sure I really had what it took to write books, but I would think back on my college writing teacher’s comment and remind myself I could do it. When I started creative writing classes in college, I knew I was exactly where I belonged. I’ll never forget the compliments and the challenges to improve from my peers and from my favorite professor. I’ll never forget hearing her say that I have potential, and that even the toughest writing professor thought I had potential. There were countless times I was beyond frustrated with the comments saying I needed to rephrase a sentence, or that a sentence didn’t need to be in the paragraph. Most of the time, reading those comments, I thought they couldn’t possibly know what they were talking about. Some of the comments almost seemed offensive, like they were saying my writing was garbage. However, the more I listened to these comments and tweaked my writing whenever the comments appeared, the more I found my work improving. I’m beyond thankful for the lessons these comments taught me. Even though I withdrew from college, I’ll never forget the lessons I learned and the belief and support I had from my professors.
Of course, I can’t forget to include my husband, Peter, in this. He’s become my biggest supporter and the person I lean on the most when I need someone to believe in me. Peter has been there to remind me how good my writing is, and how good it will be. This was especially true during my last semester of college, and the break leading up to my withdrawal. For a long time in college, I felt like I wasn’t doing what I truly loved. I wasn’t writing the story I wanted. Instead, I was writing assignments all the time and never had the motivation to write for myself. So, during the winter break before I withdrew, I started writing my story again. I talked with Peter about how amazing it felt to be back in my world with my characters. However, that excitement soon disappeared as break got closer and closer to ending. I was dreading going back to college because it meant barely having time to write for myself again. Peter and I talked for a long time about why I was going to college. I originally started going to get a degree that would help me become an editor, while I wrote on the side. However, I didn’t want to go into editing anymore. I simply wanted to write my story. Peter, the incredible man he is, said that if I really wanted to write, then I could do that. We were married, he had a decent paying job, so there was no reason for me to continue pushing off writing if I didn’t want to wait any longer. So, after a few days, I decided to withdraw from college, and I could focus on my story.
So, let me get back to the point here. Why do I write? Well, I write because I’ve had a dozen or so people tell me I was a good writer, because I’ve felt people believe in me and want to see more of my writing. I write because I’ve developed an incredible world that I want to share with other people. I write because I want to experience a life fighting beside the characters I’ve pretty much grown up with. I write because I know how powerful books can be to other people, and I hope that someday my story will inspire someone else. Or, at the very least, give other people an escape from the mundane world we know. I write because I love writing and all the challenges that come with it.