To answer this question is to first ask, ‘Why do I read?”.
When I was young my mom took me to the library and eventually began buying me books. I had already grown to have a taste for literature when I started reading at age 4. By the time I was 10-years-old, I had already read over 300 books. As I got older, I read less, but I began reading larger books.
The Harry Potter series, Eragon, R.A. Salvatore and Ed Greenwood books… I devoured them. All while enjoying every fantasy video game I could get my grubby little hands on.
My mother passed away in 2001, I was just barely turned 11-years-old, and was reading through book 2 of the Harry Potter series at the time. I remember the cops telling me about her motorcycle accident, and I remember my aunt and uncle taking me and my brother away to live with them. My dad was out of the picture, and things were complicated.
As I started a new school it was more than obvious that I had anger problems, one of my English teachers recognized it right away. Even if she didn’t notice what she was doing would change my life, she instructed me to write out my feelings, crumple the paper, and throw it away. And so I did.
Then I began writing poetry, now some people may assume that an 11-year-old can barely write anything of literary wow, but I beg to differ. This was the start of a massive change in me and everything that was within me. I started writing everyday, poetry, sure, but short stories too.
Why was I writing? To cope? Passion? Yes, on both accounts. I wanted to escape. By the time I was 12-years-old I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (A type of cancer). So I became even more invested in my writing. I was a sick kid, I had little else to do.
By the time I was 17-years-old, I had a published short-story, published poetry, and had won peer awards for my prose. I wasn’t just good at it, I was hooked on it.
It gave me a world to get lost in. Friends that I would want to be friends with. I got to meet the baddest bad guys, and the most heroic heroes. They lived inside my mind, my heart, my imagination.
It wasn’t until I was 19 that I wrote my first Novella. Then I barely wrote from years to come. Maybe poetry and shorts here and there, but never anything large as far as fiction went. I was stuck in a world of depression, anxiety, and change as I ventured from teen to adult.
Then a spark, a story hit me that I couldn’t let go. That was 3 years ago. Now I have One complete manuscript at 121k words, 3 works in progress, and a ton of ideas jotted down.
I have a file folder in my email chalk full of rejection letters from literary agents, and a folder full of feedback from beta-readers, and I love what I do.
Literary agents have personally e-mailed me and apologized that my story just wasn’t right for them at this time. I have a future ahead of me, and writing is at its very core.
To answer the question, honestly, I write because I have to. If I didn’t these stories would have no where to go, and I would never be satisfied with my life.
Don’t let the fear of rejection keep you down, even the greatest of all writers started with rejections.
-Johannus M. Steger