M. Howalt

There is a simple, short answer. It’s this: I write because it makes me happy. 

There are many kinds of happiness, though. The one I’m talking about here is more than fleeting amusement. Sometimes sadness or anger or fear are part of it, too. Escapism and entertainment. And exploration and discovery. Perhaps in this context, a better word than happiness is fulfilment. It’s the kind of state that encompasses what you need more than, necessarily, what you think you want.

Sometimes I’m asked how I come up with ideas. I never know how to answer. How do you dream? How do you get thoughts to form in your mind? How do you get a song stuck in your head? – Well, how do you not? That’s my reply to all of those questions, ideas included. My muses are with me where ever I go and whisper ideas, stories, in my ear. Writing is my creative, mind-expanding drug of choice.

I was 11 when the other kids my age wanted to “hang out” instead of “play”. I wasn’t done playing. I wasn’t done creating. My dolls and action figures had names and personalities and elaborate back stories. They acted out narratives. I had worlds in my head. I also loved the thrill of diving into a book, and sometimes I would write my own stories. Back then, I thought I would never want to stop playing. And I was right in a way. I can’t, and I don’t want to, stop creating.

I’ve tried my hand at a number of creative outlets. Dabbled in film making, costume making, drawing … But I always come back to writing. It’s where the exploration, discovery and creation are clearest and most meaningful for me. And the gravitational pull of prose in all shades of fiction, flash fiction, short stories, novellas and novels, is the strongest.

I’m not 11 anymore. Perhaps there was a time when I could have chosen another outlet of creativity. But my path in life led me to take a degree in English studies with the focus on literature, and I fell in love with books in a whole new way as I realised that literature is more than entertainment, more than escape from boredom and mundane or horrible reality. Fiction does not equal unreal. The voices I encountered in literature rang real and true and treated relevant issues. They were inward journeys of exploration.

And they formed the basis for the answer to another “why”. Not why I write, but why I want to share my writing. I hope to give others a bit of what I have been awarded through books. I hope to make them feel. To laugh and cry, to be entertained, to get a breathing space and to discover.

So there it is. I write because I don’t know how not to. Because I can’t not create. Because I’m drawn to express myself in prose. Because I want to share what lives inside me with others.