Why I Write

I am a writer.

Even in the fifth grade, I never considered myself to be anything else. I was not an “aspiring writer” or “kid who likes to write.” I’ve always known that even if I won’t make a living from writing, this is what I’m going to do. I write because I can’t not write, and it’s always been that way.

Right now I have fairly high ambitions– by the end of the summer, I want to sign a deal with an agent. I’m currently querying widely. That’s amazingly ambitious, but why not be? Also, I am working on a chapbook of poetry (let’s say, 30 pages). Beyond that, I intend to major in English and then go to graduate school to become an English professor. Maybe I’ll write columns for the local newspaper too. And write novels as well. It’s not that I haven’t thought about becoming a lawyer. Or doctor. But that’s just not what I’m meant to do. I am a writer.

When I was very young, I began to make up stories in my head. Usually loosely based on television shows. Remember those days? Pokemon and the reign of Cartoon Network. Kids these days don’t have the creative inspiration I had back in the 90’s. In the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to become a writer. I intended to publish a book immediately, so I wrote one. Fairly gargantuan in my fifth grader opinion (about 127 pages). It wasn’t great. It might not have even been any good, but my fifth grade teacher read it to the class. I was ecstatic- my work was being read, being enjoyed. Publication, maybe six months away?

Even if you start writing at twenty, there comes a time when you must leave your first project behind. Which is sad, but part of the learning process. There will come some point when you read what you’ve written and realize, “This is terrible!” Fortunately for me, that moment came in sixth grade when I began another endeavor. I wanted to write fantasy novels like J.K. Rowling, so that’s exactly what I did. I wrote a quite longer book about an eighth continent that floated in the sky, incognito- a place filled with wizards and goblins and magical crystal balls and whatnot. That book, too, was horrible. But I’m proud of it. Writing a novel in the seventh grade, that’s impressive. And if I hadn’t written and agonized all of those “books” when I was a kid, I may not be where I am today.

The truth is, everyone needs experience. I began young because I had a speech impediment, which excluded me from most conversations. If you know me now, you’ll be assured that my voice works fine. I’m making up for the 11 years lost to the inability to pronounce R words. And F words. And S words. But now my writing speaks. And it is unashamed, controversial, and fluent in words that begin with F. Sure, now I can speak. But all those years not being able to taught me to listen. And to make up stories.

Over the years, I wrote a few more project novels, if only to improve my writing, to find my voice. For the past year, I’ve worked on WORD SALAD which is “a 120,000-word transgressive satire about redemption, the meaning of insanity, and the decimation of the American Dream.” Maybe I’m still too young, but I don’t think so. This is the real deal.

I write now because I want to change the minds of men. I want to make a difference, and if I can do it with stories, with poetry, then I will.  My ambition as a writer is simply this: to be read, to be enjoyed, to be contemplated. If anything I write can make at least one person think, then I have achieved. Sure, a publishing contract would be great too, though. Or to become Poet Laurette of the United States. Too difficult? Of course not.

If you be a writer, write. And if you write something you find unsatisfactory, write more. As Ernest Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one becomes a master.”

About derekberry

Derek Berry is a novelist, poet, and student located in Charleston, SC.

Posted on May 19, 2011, in Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. your blog is very nice very nice

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