I’m not sure any author gives the full answer when they are asked this question. Perhaps they don’t know the full answer. Perhaps they’ve never asked themselves. Perhaps they don’t want to bore or confuse anyone. Perhaps they don’t know the answer or they are worried it might not be the right one. Or maybe, just perhaps, maybe the answer is too broad, too fragmented, too much to ever just be one answer.
When I write I feel the most like myself. Writing is done in this strange state where one is alone but not alone. I sit in my chair, my fingers hover, tingling, over the twenty-six letters. Five or more characters and their feelings and their desires and their hopes and dreams and their pain flit through my mind all the while and I am somehow in a truer reality than reality.
I have conversations with them. I want to know what they wish they’d gotten for their 11th birthday. I want to know what they daydream about that they’d never tell another soul. I want to know which celebrity they fancy. I want to know how much pressure it would take for them to cave. I want to know what they’d do if they won the lottery.
I have always sought out solitude. The strange place where the world quiets and I am left to talk to myself: to understand this woman whose body I inhabit. I get acquainted with her when it’s quiet. I listen to her hopes and dreams and I align them with my own. We are somehow two different entities but when we are alone, when we are writing, we are one. This is why I write. To join the inner Rachael with the outer one, so that I can experience peace.
The closest I’ve ever come to this, is sitting with my husband. We are usually in the corner of the lounge in our favorite restaurant (where Roxanne brings us glasses of wine) and we talk about our dreams and we gaze into each others eyes with such a bright ferocity that it’s disconcerting. We talk about our dreams. I talk about my books. About my next five books. About his cartooning. About the future with our wrap around porch and rocking chairs and grandchildren and grey hair. We free ourselves of reality and live in a deeper way.
This is writing. This is probing the human condition. This is diving into someone else’s mind and stirring around in it. I have written since I learned how to read. I write for the sheer joy. I write to be one of those incredible people who create whole worlds with their minds. I write to escape.
I write to live. Just to pour out a little of the creativity that’s bubbling away inside of me.
I write for me. Just me. Someone asked J.K. Rowling what she would be if she wasn’t a writer. “Depressed” is what she answered. And that is it exactly. Depressed and broken.