From My Mouth

Why I Write

The short reason: I write because I like telling stories.

The long(ish) reason: Buckle up, friends–I’ve got some things to say.

The Long(ish) Reason

I’ve seen a number of people on social media lately spouting the “SFF should just be about stories. People shouldn’t bring their personal beliefs or experiences into their work” bullshit. That’s fine if you think that; you’re entitled to your own opinion.

But. There are a lot of reasons why a shitload of us SFF authors choose to bring personal experiences into our writing, and missing the point seems a bit ignorant, especially when you’re writing in genres so broad and diverse. I write because I love to tell stories, yes, but I also write because it helps me cope with certain aspects of reality such as depression, grief, loss, politics, and social issues. Invoking personal experiences and life to create  characters and setting in my stories is a form of catharsis and expression.

Examples include:

  • Theailys An from SHADOW TWINS: Theailys is very much an analog of myself. We both battle with anxiety and depression. Writing him this way helped me be more conscious and accepting of what I deal with on a day-to-day basis. Before, I would just try and shrug it off, but as I rewrote Theailys to mirror what I was going through it became easier to say “Okay. You need to find a way to relax. You need to take better care of yourself mentally.” And I have.
  • Samm the husky in SEWN FROM SEEDS: I was in the middle of writing the second book in this trilogy when we had to put my first dog Toby down. He was an 18-year old Akita and I’m pretty sure he was also a wizard. Samm was a way for me to immortalize not only Toby, but my first cat, Sam, who also lived to be 18. Whenever I read Samm, I think of my first pets.
  • Tujunga in SEWN FROM SEEDS: Tujunga, CA is my hometown and it features heavily in SEWN FROM SEEDS as the subject of another analog character’s agitation. I love my hometown, but when I was writing SEWN FROM SEEDS I was an angsty 20-year old with a lot of mixed feelings about Tujunga. It took practically blowing the town up at the end of the first book, plus having my characters lament about its end, to see that it really was a special little place.
  • An unnamed short story I wrote when I was 22: This came about a year after I had broken up with my college girlfriend. I had a lot of trust issues. Then one night, out of the blue, I got a message from her brother telling me she had passed away in a car crash and had wanted me to know she was sorry for all of the shit she’d put me through. I wrote a story (actually, it feels pretty nonfictional looking back) in which I find myself more or less lamenting and giving a monologue as I approach her grave in Forest Lawn Cemetery. A lot of it was me acknowledging how shitty the relationship was, but the story itself was written primarily to let her know that I did indeed forgive her.
  • Race Relations, Religion, and Phobia in SHADOW TWINS: It’s no secret that racism and phobia are a prevalent part of the United States right now. I’m white and straight, and I absolutely realize that I in no way shape or form understand what so many of my friends and family are going through. I empathize and I sympathize, but I am unable to fully grasp their fear and pain because I am white and straight. I comprehend it, yes, but I do not FEEL it because I have never been marginalized for who I am. It makes me sad that I cannot take away their fear and pain, even just for moments at a time. This features heavily in the first part of SHADOW TWINS. I’ve been to the marches in Los Angeles, I’ve stood with and protested with the women, friends of color, and LGBTQ friends in my life, and I wanted this to be a part of the story I was writing because it something important going on.
    • The immigration holding centers in Texas and around the country make me sick. Every time I read about them and see pictures or video footage, I want to vomit. I’m Jewish and this shit mirrors the concentration camps; it mirrors the Japanese internment camps.

I realize this is a bit long-winded, but my point remains. I write because I love to tell stories, but I also write to express myself, to find catharsis and release from personal pain. Creating characters and worlds help me cope with reality and connect with other people around the world. I write to try and put myself in other peoples’ shoes as respectfully as possible if only to empathize with what they are going through.

I write because I have things to say.

7 thoughts on “Why I Write

  1. I always thought the best SFF was that which expressed social commentary but with advanced tech, aliens, or magic. That may or may not have been the author’s personal beliefs or experiences, but it was more than just telling stories. It was good SFF, and it had a purpose. That’s what I aspire to write, but I don’t think I’m there yet.

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    1. A fraction of me understands it, but the rest of me is like “Why?” I want to read stories because I want to feel something, not just be taken on an adventure. I want to be able to connect to people of varying race, orientation, etc.; I want to be able to empathize with them.

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      1. What would a book without the author’s personal experiences even be??? Like… a nonfiction? A really really bad fluff dime romance? Grimm’s Fairy Tales (if that’s the result then I’m fine with it actually)?

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      2. What’s funny is me having this conversation with you, then I immediately turn around and post something pointless. But it’s not SOULLESS. Maybe that’s what I’m wondering about. “Sorry, I only like soulless writing!”

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