Friday, January 18, 2013

Why I Write

Sometimes people ask me why I write. I'd make more money in an office job, they say. Or I could train to be a nurse or something.

"Jews are not served here"
I try not to laugh because I know they mean well. I bet some of Shakespeare's friends tried to help the poor guy out with a lead for a blacksmith job.

But it's more than that. I write because a lot of my fellow-humans are regularly being harassed, oppressed, killed and even tortured. I write because it's us ordinary English-speaking Westerners who can stop these atrocities - but only if enough of us choose to do so. I write fiction because most English-speaking Westerners would rather be entertained than educate themselves.

One of my biggest heroes is Harriett Beecher Stowe.

In 2013, we quite rightly see 19th-century slavery as a terrible and very obvious evil that no decent person would tolerate. But in Stowe's world, 'decent' people ate slave-produced molasses and wore slave-produced cotton. And besides, she was just one ordinary woman, so what could she do?

What she did, of course, was write a novel, and her Uncle Tom's Cabin helped America see slavery for the evil it was " a way that political speeches, tracts and newspapers accounts could not." (

Our issues are different now, but no less real. A quick look at the headlines makes me think that maybe I've got the most important job in the world. I know I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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1 comment:

  1. People write for all different reasons. You've obviously found your passion, which is awesome. For myself, I write for a couple of different reasons. I write fiction when I want to tell a story - I love a good story and I think most people do. So, I write fiction when I feel a need to express my creativity (or sometimes just to exercise those "muscles"). Most of the time very few people ever see my fiction. I haven't found an outlet for this writing yet - plus I probably haven't done enough of it.

    I also write reactively/responsively - reactively about things that are going on in our world, and responsively toward things other people have said or written. These things I post on my blog (and very few people ever see them, LOL). I've found that too much of my writing time is used to this end and too little in a more creative way. But sometimes you just have to say what's on your mind.