Friday Speak Out!: Why Am I Writing This?!”

Friday, November 16, 2018
by Jane Petreycik

Why do we write? Really? Why? That might be one of the more compelling questions of the century, if you ask me. For every writer, the answer is different, but also possibly the same.

A little over a year ago, an individual walked right out of my life, and a gazillion other people’s lives, never to return. I was devastated. It was like he had died. Okay, so he did recently reappear for about an hour, ironically for a funeral he was obligated to attend, but now he’s gone for good. And I was heartbroken all over again.

I consider myself mostly a fantasy writer. However, I am driven to write a faith-based screenplay inspired by this. Naturally, the story is changed up, a lot, but not the emotion behind it. But why am I even writing it? Maybe because it’s cathartic in a way. Maybe I can take the sadness and pain and transform them into a beloved Oscar-winning screenplay (sorry, I diverted to fantasy writing here). Or maybe it’s to get ideas and stuff out of my head and on the page, where they belong. While my character’s story isn’t exactly my story, while what happens in my script won’t be exactly what happened to me, I can grab snippets from life to make the script “real”. And so this fantasy writer is venturing into this new territory.

Again I ask – Why do we write? Why do we do this to ourselves? I don’t have to write this piece. I could write a nice little fairy tale adaptation and be fine. But I wouldn’t be satisfied. I’ve had so many perfectly good ideas that I’ve ended up putting aside, because they weren’t doing anything for me at the time. But this idea just isn’t going away.

So, I think we write ultimately because we have a story to tell. I have a story to tell. Writing this might be stepping way outside of my comfort zone, but I’m still delving into these uncharted waters. Doubtless we’ve all been told by someone to “write what you know”. Amen to that. I still might write that fairy tale adaptation someday, but at the present moment, I’m sticking with what I know.

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Jane Petreycik is currently a freelancer. Her first screenplay placed Runner Up in the Acclaim Scripts screenplay competition and was an Official Finalist in the New York Screenplay Contest. She is now working on another script.
Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Anonymous said...

This is just what I needed to read this morning. Thank you!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great post, Jane!

I'm currently writing a memoir during NaNoWriMo, and it's a story I've tried to tell for many years. Around twelve years ago, I wrote part of it as novel and it just didn't feel right. I finally decided that the story had to be told as memoir. I had to dive head first into my emotions and get real, write what I know--my emotional truth. Finding the right format for the story is so important. I applaud you for stepping outside your comfort zone!

Margo Dill said...

I think the reason even changes for each person depending on what he/she is working on at the time AND the stage of life the writer is in. My first novel I wrote because I wanted to write something for teachers to use in the classroom to bring history to life. I was a 5th grade social studies teacher, and I loved using historical fiction with my class. Now I write because it is cathartic--at least this project I'm currently working on.

Renee Roberson said...

I love this post, Jane. Most of the time you'll find snippets of things that have really happened to me in my writing, but there are also times when I feel like I'm a channel for a story that wants to be told. I was inspired to write a short story about the Ringling Brothers Circus fire of 1944 after visiting the Ringling museum and walking through an exhibit on the event. I also once sat down to write a mirco flash fiction piece and ended up with a story that told about the life of my father-in-law, who died a year ago from an alcohol-related accident. It wasn't supposed to be memoir but it very well could have been both. There are so many reasons why we write, and it's those unique experiences that make the best writing, in my opinion. Keep writing what's on your heart!

Elizabeth said...

"Write what you know" Excellent advice Jane, I often forget to follow this mantra and get stuck in a story. Thanks for the the uplifting piece. Good Luck!

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