Friday, December 19, 2014

Why I Write

I was telling my students (I teach grade six!) the other day that I have considered myself a professional writer since I was seventeen. That means that I've been working at my 'craft' for fifteen years. My students then assumed that, after so much time, I was as successful as J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, or Veronica Roth.

No such luck.

I feel I've done well. I've had articles, poems, and stories published over the years. A lot of them deal with mental illness, which I feel passionate about bringing awareness too. Now I'm starting my adventures of publishing YA novels. But, by no stretch of the imagination, do I have the prowess, skill, or fame of J.K. Rowling.

Not even close.

"Mrs. Greene," a student then asked. "Why do you stay at it?"

The easy answer: I like it.

Of course I like it. If I didn't like writing, I wouldn't do it. But I like lots of things that I don't do. Ice skating is fun, but that is a twice-decade activity that I rarely make time for. I like baking, but I never have the time, energy, or ingredients to make a habit of it.  Sure, writing is fun, but it is also a lot of hard work. Sometimes thoughts and sentences flow out of my fingers beautifully. Most of the time I sit doodling, tapping my pen, and banging my head against the desk.

So why do I stick at it?

I guess I feel it is a worthwhile pursuit. There is an end result that is fulfilling and meaningful. All tales, no matter the content, have value. I know I may never be incredibly famous. I may never win a Pulitzer prize in literature. Most likely, a poem I penned in the twelfth grade will never be stitched onto a pillow. Emma Watson may never portray one of my characters on film. (Alas). Some things I write may be published. A lot will be tossed in the trash. But its the effort of writing that is most important, the action of striving for the best words or phrasing. The strength of putting pain into tangible lines.

In other words...

I write:

I write because I have words trapped in my head.
I write because I have scenes that flash before my eyes.
I write with hope.
I pour out despair: crumble, cringe, collapse.
I write to enlighten.
I write to understand.
I write cathartically, or to fill a void.
I write with humour, a flash of arrogance, the muses' guide.
I write my stories and tell the tales.
I write to thrive.
I write to survive.
I write because I can.
I write because I must.

Jenna Greene: "A writer by design, desire, and ambitions of sanity."


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Well written and well expressed, Jenna.

Also, you made an excellent point with your students, whose parents are probably more ambitious for them than they are for themselves. It's not about winning or scoring. One should do one's best. The enjoyment and growth are where the pleasure lies.

Keith Willis said...

Jenna, well said indeed. We write because not to do so would denigrate who we are as persons. We are the tellers of stories in the caves, holding back the darkness (or sometimes bringing it that much closer and intimate and terrifying). We are the singers of the ballads; the purveyors of wonders; the ones who *know* the world in all its glory and foibles. To keep all that bottled up is to risk an explosive of dire consequence. We MUST write. It's like breathing. To stop is to die.

Big Mike said...

I've been on a writer's hiatus for three months (recovering from three manuscripts going from editing to release) and just started back yesterday. I've been restless, itchy, bored for a while and now I realize I was suffering from author withdrawal. Boy did I forget what delving into a fictional world I created felt like. I missed it, I need it, lord help me if I every stop full time.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)

January Bain said...

Beautifully said, Jenna! I too consider myself a storyteller first. Life is my muse, writing is my necessary creative outpouring of all that I am. Best, January

Liz Fountain said...

Nicely said, Jenna!

Olga Godim said...

Great post. I can sign under it too. The stories trapped inside our heads clamor to be let out.

Jude Johnson said...

Well done, and welcome, Jenna!

Jenna Greene said...