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.

Joanna Nelius

In high school, I wanted to be a crime scene investigator. But after nearly failing Chemistry my junior year, I was told by a counselor that I better find something else to do with my life. Having an adult figure, someone whose job it was to put students on a path for success, disparage my hopes at the only career I could see myself doing well into adulthood, only added to the already fragile self-esteem of my 16-year-old self. Combined with a tumultuous home life, I closed off to family and friends.READ MORE

Timothy Smith

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been one of the most vivid and eager storytellers … in my own mind. During summers when I was a child, my adopted brother and sister, both my own age, left to attend summer camp every year, while I stayed home alone. READ MORE

Ashley Brimmage

The first time I felt completely understood was when my crush of three years looked me in the eyes and said “Ashley, I think you write to feel heard.”READ MORE

Chad Crossley

To write is to connect. Such is the vital lifeblood of this craft: the bridging of the then to the now, the noble art of reaching out to otherness, the fledgling and uncertain grasp toward authenticity. This is an axiom I have always held deeply personal, perhaps best encapsulated by the utterly real line penned by Oscar Wilde—”the truth is rarely pure and never simple.”READ MORE

Jonathan Donabo

I began to write because I needed it, but I think I would be lying if I gave you a definite answer. I first started writing poetry in middle school or high school to cope with my mental illness and ‘figure my self out’. In using the word figure, I will invoke three meanings. READ MORE

Lydia Rollins

Dictators are often creative writers. In their spare time, they write everything from romance novels to film criticism to death sentences.READ MORE

Vincent Scambray

I started writing at 13, after years of mulling over my father’s collection of 1,000 books or more, watching my father sit in his study correlating research with facts and non-fiction. My father, an English Literature professor, and my mother an English teacher, revealed to me the secrets of how to write. She provided me with my knowledge of the fundamentals of writing, he provided me with the vehicles. READ MORE

Sandra Barnes

My best friend and business partner happens to be my ex-husband. Yes, you can ask.READ MORE

Abigail Ayulo

Before all else, there were stories. In the deep press of the early morning, in those still 1 a.m.’s, the air drips with stories. The first hour of the day. Knowing there have been days before, and there is a full day to come gives that moment power – the power to create.READ MORE