Writing is the most powerful thing I know how to do. Language is the most powerful medium I have at my disposal.
As a child, the books I read shaped me. It’s not an exaggeration to say that reading may even have saved me. I certainly wouldn’t be the person I am without them.
I’m still an avid reader of those who are out there creating good stories well told. Celeste Ng is one of my current favorites—for both Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You. Ng’s books immediately draw me in, not just with their powerful first lines, but by the painterly way they establish character with just a few brushstrokes.
The second best thing to me is to be completely immersed in a story as a reader and to have a little writerly epiphany. “Oh, I see what you did there.” The best thing is to go back afterward to that chapter or paragraph or line that has never quite worked and to suddenly see exactly how it can.
I write because I love the craft of writing.
More fundamentally, I write because I love the power writing gives me over my own history. I don’t say that my first novel, The Balance of Fear, is autobiographical. It’s not.
The South African writer, Sheila Kohler, lectured at the Bennington Writing Seminars while I was a student there. She was fabulous on role a writer’s personal history can have in shaping the fiction they write. Kohler’s sister died in apartheid South Africa in what Kohler believes was an act of domestic violence. Since then, Kohler has been “driven to explore the reasons for violence within intimate relationships, in particular, the abuse of power and privilege.”
The Balance of Fear explores the impact of violence and the abuse of power and privilege. It’s tremendously empowering to turn ugly into art, and as I said, writing is my medium.