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.

Shannon Barnsley

My humanities professor once asked why I was pursuing writing instead of the ancient epics I had studied for three years. He said that my interest in religion and mythology couldn’t just be that of someone mining for ideas, looking for something to write about. What I didn’t say then, but wish I had, was that I don’t love epics because I want to be a writer, I want to be a writer because I love epics.READ MORE

Peppur Chambers

Thinking  about why I write is almost like asking myself why I smile. Why do I say “Hello” to strangers on the street? Why do I look so deeply into children’s eyes? The answer is simple: because I must. It makes me feel good. It makes me who I am. Genuinely and at no real cost to anyone or myself.READ MORE

Pam Jones

I’m not very good at talking. I should specify: I went to a college without tests, and so a student’s progress was based on, really, two things. The first was his or her ability to speak. The second was his or her ability to write. In lieu of grades, students were issued page-long narrative evaluations, detailing to minutiae an individual’s class attendance, time management, et cetera. You did not go unnoticed. My evaluations were often full of praise for my written work, with feedback that varied from how to tighten up my prose, to driving a point home a little faster. Comments for class discussion were always the same: “Pam, though mostly quiet…”, “Though Pam’s participation was infrequent…”, “I would have liked to hear more from Pam in our group discussions…”READ MORE

Nate Ragolia

The interview room is well-appointed with two fine wingback chairs. The Doctor, of Doctor Who fame, the last of child of Gallifrey, sits across from me, shuffling through a stack of index cards. READ MORE

Jonathan Yanez

Writing has been the best outlet I didn’t know I needed. From an early age I loved reading and the promise of adventure every book contained. I didn’t recognize what a gift my overactive imagination could be until I considered writing as a career.READ MORE

Erum Khan

I’ve asked myself this question a lot over the years. Why do I write? Most of the time it comes in the form of a joke along with a knowing and resigned shrug between fellow writers. Writers often carry this hypothetical like a God-given mantle, as if it is something we can’t help but for the most part have learned to live with. Sometimes, though, when my eyes have glazed over from late night revisions or yet another rejection email, the question loses its wry humor. I get the urge to look at myself in the mirror and really ask: Why?READ MORE

Eric Z. Weintraub

I think that for many writers, the motivation to write comes with an a-ha moment. A moment where they’re reading a great book or witnessing something extraordinary and they realize, “I need to be a writer.” I never had an a-ha moment. I’ve wanted to be a writer and tell stories since I could remember. The passion came naturally to me.READ MORE

Dean Moses

Christopher Hitchens once said of writing, “It must not be the thing you would like to do, but it must be the thing you feel that you have to do. It must be that without which you could not live.” This quote sums up why I write.READ MORE

Cristiana Wilcoxon

I write to exercise my demons. Not exorcise—tried that once and my demons went on strike for six weeks, leaving me with no material. So exercise it is, every day like you would walk the dog. I stick ‘em on leashes and take them out for a stroll, letting them sniff fire hydrants and bark at brown rabbits. Not until they’re exhausted and panting do I lead them back inside the yard and let my fingers rest. A cooped up demon whines and scratches at the door, making it impossible to sleep, but a tuckered out fiend has no reason to keep you up at night.READ MORE