Writing: It’s Just This Thing, You Know?

Ha. Um… Oh dear.

Why do I write?

It took a while, but I remember why I started writing: I wanted to tell the story better. I was reading something (Star Wars novels. Babysitter’s Club and Trixie Belden books. Fanfiction on a dial-up connection in 1998.) and I would think, “Hey, that’s cool and all, but…”

In the beginning, it was just about having an idea and wanting to tell you all about it.

It’s not a bad beginning, but it doesn’t sum up why I keep doing it. I’m afraid the overall answer isn’t really awesome or deep. It’s just — I do. I imagine that being a writer is something so built into me that I can’t really be anything else. I’m not really good at anything else.

I get sad when I don’t write. It’s like a compulsion. When I go long periods without doing some sort of creative writing, I start to feel as though I’ve fallen apart. Like everything is stuck inside me, like the world has filled me with lead and weighed me down and I’ll never be okay again. Like I’m sick. I went the 9 months after my son was born without writing, without feeling like there was anything inside me to write, and it cast a pall on my whole life.

I like the form and flow of language — especially punctuation. Have I ever shared with you my deep & complex feelings on punctuation? No? Another time, then. I like the way I can take the magic and absurdity of words, and create something in the mind of someone I’ve never met. I like how even though the words are the same for every person reading it, there’s something different about every interpretation of the story.

I love writing about people. I love the way people hate each other, fall in love, have sex, protect the things dear to them, struggle, suffer, and exist.

I like stretching the lengths of absurdity and reality.

I like the way people are impressed by my writing. I know it’s shallow and vain, but when someone tells me, “That’s really fucking good,” I preen. I love having ideas that impress and amuse people. One of the best compliments I get as a writer is when I make people emotional. My beta doodled in the margin of her version of my novel, and every one was like a present. My favorite was the chapter ending that made her doodle crazy eyes:

Darkmus' margin doodled from Dreaming of Eden

She tells me she actually made that face when she read it. [Drawing by Anita Chen, who rules.]

So, um, I write because I enjoy it. It makes me happy. I’m having fun.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.

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