This week's Road Trip Wednesday question from YA Highway: What's your numero-uno reason for writing?
I'll be honest: some days I want to be a professional writer because I really enjoy flexible schedules and working from home in pajamas (though I actually find dress pants supremely comfortable; it’s the dress shirts and the heels that are the problem). Clearly that’s not my primary motivation though, because I don't think I was concerned with a professional wardrobes and schedules when I dreamed of being a writer as a three-year-old.
A lot of people say they
The number one reason I write is the language. I love writing and wordplay and word origins, I love crafting sentences that sing, I even love line editing and grammar. But why slog through the difficult process of becoming a creative writer then, when it's probably much easier to get other writing or editing jobs? Well...
I grew up writing stories, but for some reason I was too chicken to take creative writing classes in college – instead I stuck to essay writing, which I knew I could do well. In the Writing Center I also discovered how much I enjoyed teaching others to write, so I went to grad school in English Language and Literature, planning to spend my career teaching college classes and writing articles about other people's creative works.
But I noticed something when I compared my grad school essays to my undergraduate ones: the complexity and critical thinking levels were better in my grad school essays, but the quality of writing was not. Bogged down by concerns about entering the “critical conversation” without sounding dumb, I had lost the sense of playing with language, and the writing often didn’t flow as smoothly. There were a lot of reasons I decided not to pursue a PhD program after graduating with my Masters, but the stifling effect on my writing was one of them. I also tend to lose my writing voice when I'm doing professional nonfiction things, like those dreaded cover letters. Editing/grant writing/freelancing etc. could be acceptable money-making jobs for me, but they'd never give me the relationship with language that I really wanted.
After grad school, I found a community college teaching position that I loved. For the first time in a while I could choose the books I read, which turned out to be a lot of dystopias and YA fiction. I also discovered Nanowrimo and jumped back into the creative writing that I had ignored for far too long. I was hooked on YA writing, and it felt so incredibly right.
So I write for the language, and I write YA fiction for the freedom and the love.
What about you?
What about you?