At some point anyone who has ever put pen to paper, banged away on a typewriter, or tapped the keys of a computer in an effort to string together words into a story have probably wondered why they do what they do. In Why We Write Meredith Maran strings together a series of interviews with “acclaimed” although not all bestselling, authors as to why they do what they do.
Why the mix of authors leans heavily towards those who ply their trade as literary writers versus those who are bestselling, or more commercial writers, there is a level of commonality that they share. Often it boils down to the simple fact that they have a story in them that just has to come out.
One of the most interesting segments comes from Walter Mosley, the bestselling author of the Easy Rawlins series (among others) who laments that he is pigeonholed by his fiction success, while he has non-fiction stories and screenplays that he has put down on paper. While most would be content with Mosley’s level of success, he clearly has a desire to expand his scope.
The bottom line is there is nothing truly groundbreaking in the response to the book’s title question; most write because they feel the need to get a story out or they simply don’t know how to do anything else. Writing is simply the vehicle they use to get their creative mojo on.