I was writing before I knew how to write. Vivid, fanciful images projected non-stop onto the mini screen of my still-baking young brain…sparked by the wonderful radio serials of the 1940s that enthralled me.
Suspense, The Shadow, Mr. Chameleon, Gang Busters, The Lone Ranger, Terry and the Pirates and—best of all—the bone-chilling, pants-wetting creaking door of Inner Sanctum. The best CGI ever created can’t compare with the pictures your mind creates on its own. (And at a fraction of the price.)
I’ve lived in my imagination ever since. My internal conversations with imaginary friends never stopped. It led me to a long career in advertising, writing and producing scores of TV and radio commercials—mostly dialogues. Then to Hollywood and spec sitcom scripts and screenplays. More recently to stage plays and the scary, longer format of a novel. I wrote them for the love of writing them. I write because I can’t not write. And yes, it would be nice if people enjoy what I write. But I’m not writing for them…I’m writing for me. Just for the joy of it.
For example. I came to the 1888 site to submit a novella I’ve written. But in finding that the time window for submissions is months away, I discovered that the essay window never closes. So here I am pontificating and watching my word count inch towards the magic mid-century mark.
I don’t seriously expect this to be published. It doesn’t matter. It just feels amazing to sit down and let the words come…to respond to the 500-word challenge. Some part of my brain lights up, my central nervous system vibrates and my pituitary gland shoots me up with creative endorphins. I think you have to have a little junkie in you to write. To write seriously. (I know it should be ‘one’ instead of ‘you,’ but that sounds so anal. I like to write how people talk.)
The high would feel even better working on my old IBM Selectric. The tactile feel of those resistant keys pushing back, making me work physically as well as mentally. The incessant hum of that gloriously ugly, massive writing machine nagging and urging me on. ‘Stop wasting electricity and type!’ I love my Mac, but it’s just not the same experience…too unforgiving typo-wise.
But I digress. To return to the ‘why.’ It became apparent to me years ago that I’m always writing. I am unable—and unwilling—to turn it off. A small part of me stands outside every encounter I have and observes it, taking notes. It doesn’t mean I’m not present or distracted. It’s just more polite than carrying a recorder around. I want it all at my disposal. Because it is all material.
We are each of us characters in our unfinished scripts. The words that could trace the arc of those countless, singular adventures are yet to be imagined. I need to conceive my share of them. Then I have to write them down.
When the task of writing grows inevitably arduous—and seemingly thankless—we must remember why we started. Inspired by George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Why I Write,” this introspective project highlights our motives for writing. Share your story and join the conversation. Live events are produced throughout the diverse cities of Orange County and feature author readings from curated essay submissions.
- Write a 500-word essay explaining why you write.
- Submit via Submittable.