Why We Write

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.


1888 publishes contemporary novellas through The Plaza Literary Prize, an annual anthology of international short stories titled The Cost of Paper, and community essays supporting our Why We Write project. Click here to view our collection.

Ryan Gattis

At the back of my student council class, at Coronado High School, in 1996, he tapped me on the shoulder. Twice.READ MORE

Nick Maurer

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” This first sentence of Joan Didion’s essay, “The White Album,” ignites her investigation of the social unraveling of American society in the 1960’s, an unraveling that parallels her own psyche. READ MORE

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.READ MORE

Shauna Barbosa

I grew up in a Cape Verdean community in Roxbury, Massachusetts. As a young girl, I learned that Cape Verdeans were fetishized because of our mixed Portuguese heritage, our curly hair, and as a friend once put it, “the exotic look” in our eyes. I believed those things made us unique. Until I discovered our land of literature. Warm brutal buried dreams of the Atlantic Ocean.READ MORE

Julie Schulte

Writing is my most terrifying desire on the best days and most pestering necessity on the worst. I would agree with Anaïs Nin when she claims that for her it is nothing short of a matter of life and death: “I believe one writes because one has to create a world in which one can live. READ MORE

Alanna Ritchie

Sounds get stuck in my head and until I put them on paper they just feel like chaos. Writing helps me organize these thoughts and understand my own feelings, desires and disappointments.READ MORE

Denise Temal

For Healing:

“Leche,” I hear against an auditory backdrop of my mom’s preparations for Mexican-style rice: crackling onions, tomatoes, and garlic. A sheet of light smoke falls upon the living room, where my dad smiles and we cheer with the joy of my sister’s first word. The already sleepy Sunday captures a dreamy quality. READ MORE

Michaela Chairez

When something has been a part of me for so long, it is hard to imagine myself without it. Especially something like writing, when it would come dressed as a best friend I never had. I never always liked writing growing up. In fact, I hated it. READ MORE

Daniel Uncapher

I can’t stop writing about the end of the world. The end of the world is everywhere. It’s impossible not to notice, and, like any hyperobject, impossible not to care about once you’ve noticed.READ MORE