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.

Why We Write: Roadshow

We are taking our Why We Write project on the road with an Orange County Tour. Live events will be produced throughout Orange County and feature author readings from curated essay submissions. Each event will be recorded for audio podcast and video documentary. Produced in partnership with Anaheim Packing District and The LABREAD MORE

Joanell Serra

On an island of white privilege at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, I raised a boy of color. He was neither studious, sports-driven, or a morning person. I saw the teachers subtly steer him towards the one other child of color in the classroom, a girl obsessed with horses who had nothing but color in common with him. Or they placed him near the front of the class, to keep an eye, as if he might self- combust. READ MORE

Nancy Lynée Woo

I’ve been a poet since I was eight years old but officially came out of denial seven years ago. Since then, I’ve established a thriving writing life. Writing has become as natural as breathing (though, like breathing, we can all still use a reminder to do it). I write daily, I write for a living, and I write poetry for my soul. To illustrate why I write, let’s imagine a Reasons for Writing Pyramid. Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, each upper layer builds on the lower foundational layers.READ MORE

Lesley Stanley

In fifth grade, I almost didn’t make it to recess one afternoon because I didn’t finish writing my short story assignment. The idea of spending a day banished from the swings — a day where I couldn’t practice flipping off backwards, legs-over-head — was enough to make me hurry. READ MORE

Kristen Pham (Merola)

If you were to look up the definition of “rough childhood” in the dictionary, you might see a picture of me. I’m not saying this to elicit sympathy or pity. It’s just a fact.READ MORE

Betty Hwang

I write comedy. Stand up comedy material in fact. If you looked at me, you wouldn’t think I wrote comedy. I look pretty shy, but it’s through my writing, I become outgoing. I write about experiences in my life and things I observe in a funny manner that I then perform in open mics. READ MORE

Elizabeth Vasquez

You know how when it’s cold out, and the clouds bury the sun for days, and then, suddenly, the sun breaks the barricade. That first ray of sunlight that hits your back on a perfect day, warming you, making you feel alive and anew?READ MORE

Cindy Rinne

Sometimes you hear a voice through the door calling you, as a fish out of water hears the waves, or a hunting falcon hears the drum’s come back. This turning toward what you deeply love saves you. – Rumi

Later in life I fell in love with words. In my 50s I decided I wanted to get serious about writing.READ MORE

Sam Ortiz

I suppose I could say I write because I enjoy it. But I also enjoy eating pizza, watching Netflix, taking naps. My reason for writing is different.READ MORE