Why I Write: Caitlin’s Story

I write because I’ve always been good at telling and writing stories. 

When you read books while you eat your breakfast half dressed in your uniform, bag on the floor, dawdling before every school morning like I did as a child, it’s no wonder I became so obsessed with words and their power. 

When you read books while you’re supposed to be sleeping and instead have a torch under the sheets illuminating the pages, desperate to get to the end of the chapter/end of the book, like I did as a teenager, it’s no wonder I was good at English and essays and creative writing and so absorbed with making sense of the world by way of stories.

If someone asked me why I write, like they did when the call out came for this article, as complicated as it may seem on the outside, it’s very simple. I’ve always been good at telling and writing stories. 

I write because I have trained myself to be aware of how the little pieces of a narrative come apart and can be put together. 

To finetune the art of storytelling is to become aware of pieces of a narrative. For writers it is obvious, for others maybe less so, but everyone interacts with stories and these little pieces every day. 

We share our highlights reel at the dinner table, we have a five-second friendly exchange at the grocery store, we hear news stories, we read (a lot), we have conversations with friends and we imagine new experiences. We choose to embellish parts of our stories; others we choose to leave out. 

But the writers are the ones who ask why we make the decisions we do. The writers are the strange ones, the odd ones, the compulsive ones, the imaginative ones, the ones who tell too many stories and the same ones over again.

I write because I have always been the odd one out and thought it was hard to try to be like everyone else. I have stopped trying. 

As a child, my favourite places or the places where I spent the most time seem to be libraries and bookstores. And not just at the school library, but also public libraries, where I have memories of my mum dragging bags full of books back to our car. 

I haven’t yet found a bookstore that I am able to walk past. I must walk in. They overwhelm me with their possibilities and the people who have voices waiting to be heard – ahem – read. I get lost in their corridors and memorise where books are on the shelves so next time I can come back and bring them home. 

Being a writer and the act of writing itself is hard. Sometimes you feel like a complete failure. There are bumps in the road everywhere, solutions to even simple problems can feel unreachable, and people constantly try to divert you to what they’ve decided is a better, more important and financially secure option. 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard relatives say, “you should do this, I (emphasis on the I – them not myself) think you’d be great at this”. One recently blatantly said “she’s not looking at any of the jobs I (see above) told her to look at”. 

There is pressure to re-evaluate and re-think a more financially stable option. But every time I think of something else to do that isn’t creative enough, part of me screams no, keep going. This life is hard to navigate and rocky at times especially if your career takes longer than you would have expected to get started. 

But sometimes all it takes to make you sparkle in those moments is a simple message from a friend to say ‘you are a writer’. Those four words are the fuel for my romantic, creative, confused and sentimental self.

And, lastly and most importantly, 

I write because I love it down to my very loud heartstrings that sing a song of words sewn into my soul.

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