One that a lot of writers ask themselves regularly. Would you judge me if I said I ask it every day? Okay, maybe not every day, but when I refresh my sales dashboard to find a zero for the day’s sales, it does tend to pop into my brain… anyone else?
To explain why I write – to myself, as well as all of you – I will start with yet another rhetorical question.
Has a book ever changed your life?
I dare anybody to say no. If you’ve read at least one book in your life, it will have changed you, even just slightly. Perhaps you learnt a new word, or sequence of words, or a new concept. Perhaps you hadn’t realised until then that ‘offence’ and ‘offense’ are just the British and American spellings of the same word (which I didn’t actually realise until one of my beta readers pointed it out in my latest Work In Progress… thanks Chloe!). Or perhaps it was something bigger. Perhaps you sighed with relief at realising you were not the only person who had a particular thought, or felt a particular way. Perhaps you had a lightbulb moment when you likened one of the character’s stories to your own life. Somehow, somewhere, there’s been a book that’s changed your life.
I don’t think people talk about this enough, for it is one of my biggest motivations. You hear about it sometimes. On Twitter, or in a blog post, or elsewhere. I’m half-inclined to do another blog post, simply on books that changed my life. (Watch this space.) Whenever I hear about books changing lives, I’m filled with this incredible overwhelming longing to be the author who brings about that change. Who gave someone a lightbulb moment. Who made a difference. That’s part of why I write. A selfish reason maybe – but fear not, for I do have other reasons.
I see a lot of identikit characters in fiction. Not aimed at anyone or any book, but I feel that literature – and the wider media in general – leaves a lot of voices unheard. Where are the people with food allergies? Where are the people who don’t drink because they just don’t like alcohol? Where are the people who just aren’t that bothered about finding romance? I represent them all in my aforementioned WIP (again, watch this space). I write to give a voice to those people who, for whatever reason, don’t feel like they have much of one in literature. And I don’t dwell on these things – they’re just part of the characters, just like they’re part of us. I know that if I saw a character who didn’t like alcohol in something I was reading, my heart would lift because it goes the tiniest bit further towards normalising it. Same with a food allergy. Or a back problem (like my scoliosis).
I do have other reasons. For example, if I didn’t write, I’d probably go crazy. I’m a creative person who isn’t very good at drawing, so I paint pictures with words. I yearn to be the author who makes a reader feel ‘Thank God, I’m not alone in this’. That’s pretty much why I wrote The Silent Chapter. I was reading so many stories of strong, tough people who had been through hell, but struggled to allow themselves to feel. I thought that if I represented them in my book, and allowed my characters to feel, there might be a person somewhere one day reading it and knowing that they’re not alone. That they can feel. That they are strong, and loved, and heard. And, crucially, that they will be okay.
So essentially, I write to spread love. That’s the bottom line, for everything I do. Love, love, love.
Does this sound like the ramblings of an overzealous teenage author who’s got too much love than she knows what to do with? Good. Exactly the vibe I was going for. If excessive love is your thing, keep up with me by following my social media accounts, subscribing to my mailing list and/or buying my book, The Silent Chapter!
NB: I do not own this image. Full rights go to the original creator.