I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower last night with Cesca, who wanted to see it because she’s a fan of Emma Watson and wanted to see her in a different role than Hermione, of Harry Potter fame. I remember thinking it looked interesting when we saw the trailer.
Initially, it seemed to be yet another teen angst movie — the drama of the high school years that so many have experienced. But it was much more to me, probably because the protagonist narrates the story based on his letters to ‘Friend’ that is, for me, journaling. The movie’s themes hit close to home for me. Which got me to thinking, why does anyone write? What compels people to share their private world in such a public arena, fiction or non-fiction, because after all, we are taught to ‘write what we know’.
Why do I write?
It’s not to tell stories, although it started out that way when, during for third grade class project I wrote to my favorite author. I told her how I loved her stories and the children in the stories felt like friends. I wrote that books were magical because I didn’t feel lonely and that they took me to other worlds. (I still feel that way.) I shared for the first time that I wanted to be a writer, too.
Only a handful of my third grade class received responses to their letters. My response came from the publisher. The author had died a few years earlier but they promised to pass the letter on to her family. I was devastated; once again, I’d lost someone very special to me. Unexpectedly, a few weeks later, a letter was on my teacher’s desk for me.The author’s children had responded, encouraging me to follow my dream and always write from my heart.
While I can no longer remember the author’s name or the books she wrote, I remember the kindness of her children. That they took time to respond to a shy, lonely third grader always reading a book snuck inside her school desk, meant the world to me. It gave me hope when I didn’t have much.
So, I began to write.