Kathryn H. Ross

I often say I’m not good at anything—I can’t sing or do sports. I’m not great at math, and though I love science, you won’t catch me in a lab. Working with my hands only lends itself to semi-ambitious pet projects, arts and crafts. I’m a decent cook, I love painting and molding clay, I enjoy drawing—but these are low-burn passions.
Writing is in the fire.

It is the only passion that makes me cry—that makes me want, that makes me competitive. It is the only one that fills me with an enthusiasm far from my nature, but so close to my heart. If I’m being honest, I don’t really know if I’m good at writing, either. When I look into my future, as much as I want to see someone with a shelf-full of published works, maybe a Pulitzer, someone who is invited to give talks, lead workshops, and whose name appears on prestigious literary panels alongside giants, I don’t know if she will ever become a reality. I second guess and doubt myself. But I live as if she’s on the horizon, as if she’s there in the future waiting for me to make moves now that will bring her out of her dream-state and into the real world where we become one.

I write because as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been telling stories. Late at night when my sister and I should have been sleeping, we would sit huddled together in my bed, using stuffed animals and toys to act out stories I created by repeating the word, pretend, pretend, pretend. I write because I know that words have always loved me in a way the other passions never could. Like me, the words are quiet and reserved, but they hold the ability to yell, shake, destroy, disturb, bring about bursts of laughter and sorrow, of memory and awe.

They are small, and they are mighty. They contain universes in the spaces between them, and they whisper to me, always. I see worlds come to life, hear soft voices in my mind and heart, begging me to bring characters into some sort of existence.

Sometimes they shout; sometimes they cry. I write because I have to get them out, give birth again and again, even if they do nothing more than sit in my computer or notebook and age. Sometimes the little darlings come forward a bit misshapen—not quite ready, not quite right. I used to kill them. Now I put them aside and wait for when and where they belong.

I write because I must—because I have been called to. I write because God placed beauty and passion and pain and ugliness in the world and has let me see it, speak it. I write because I am quiet and shy, but the words are not. I write because I can’t do anything else, and if I’m being honest, I’ll never want to.

 


 

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.

  1. Write a 500-word essay explaining why you write.
  2. Submit via Submittable.

The 1888 Podcast Network is a curated collection of educational and entertaining podcasts. Each program is designed to provide a unique platform for industry innovators to share stories about art, literature, music, history, science, or technology.

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