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  • Why I Write: Harry Turtledove

    Why do I write? The most basic answer, I suppose, is that I can't not do it. I've been telling stories on paper, first to myself and then to other people, for as long as I've been literate.

  • Why I Write: Kathleen Ossip

    Because I want to. This is no small statement. On planet Earth in 2011 C.E., having leisure time and emotional and physical ease to do what I want, without regard for market potential, is an enormous privilege, and I'm enormously grateful for it. On most days at the desk, this desire to write is all I'm consciously aware of. Call it an impulse, then.

  • Why I Write: Rick Steves

    We all have pastimes. I don't knit or follow sports. I don't do crossword puzzles. I can't play cribbage. But I do write. I journal (just for myself) when I'm going through tough personal times.

  • Why I Write: Patricia Wells

    I remember as if it happened yesterday. I was 10 years old, in third grade, and standing at the blackboard at Little Flower School in Milwaukee, Wis. Sister Clotidus had asked each of us to write what we wanted to be when we grew up.

  • Why I Write: Bob Greene

    There's a certain amount of irony in the fact that I currently make my living as a writer. When I think back to my high school days (more decades ago than I'd like to admit), I remember having a natural aptitude for math and science, but lacking in the creative writing department. I generally viewed writing with the same enthusiasm as going to the dentist's office for a root canal.

  • Why I Write: Steven T. Murray

    I was fated to become a translator. At four I was exposed to my first foreign language, Tagalog, in Manila, followed by Spanish in Mexico City at seven. Back in the San Francisco Bay area, I took Latin and then German in school.

  • Why I Write: Courtney Milan

    There is a joke I like to play on my husband.

  • Why I Write: Dave Zirin

    James Baldwin once wrote, "America is a place devoted to the death of the paradox." He meant that this is a country most comfortable with putting people in easily identifiable boxes. That's why it becomes such a loaded question when someone asks you what you do for a living.

  • Why I Write: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

    The relationships we have with dogs seem simple enough and often are taken for granted. But these relationships can be deep and mysterious, and not at all simple.

  • Why I Write: Will Friedwald

    I recently had a disturbing revelation. I started to write about music in my teens, largely because it seemed inevitable. My mother is very literary, my dad was a music buff, and this was the most direct way to combine their two aspirations into the act of writing about music.

  • Why I Write: Michael Korda

    I've always wanted to write history, and it was only the accident of going to work for a book publisher in 1958 (and the need to earn a regular paycheck) that slowed me down. Even then, I went through a long, self-imposed, part-time apprenticeship.

  • Why I Write: Melissa Clark

    Someone once said of the great food writer M.F.K. Fisher: she was a passionate woman and food was her metaphor. It's an image that has stuck with me throughout my career, the idea that what we eat is a touchstone for human existence, and that food writing can tell us about so much more than what was on the plate.

  • Why I Write: Stephanie Pearl McPhee

    The first time I wrote this essay, trying to explain why I write, I wrote what I've heard other authors say. Essentially (but really well) I repeated the grand idea that writers write because they must—the fire for the literary art burns so brightly in us that without writing as a form of expression, we would scarcely have a reason to go on. Now, after I typed that, I realized that I'm either more shallow or more complex, because I think I have another reason.

  • Why I Write: Laird Barron

    My paternal grandfather was a failed novelist. He stacked boxes of rejected manuscripts in a closet. I didn't realize this until much later in life, after I'd written half a million words of my own; didn't appreciate this fact until after he died in 1993, alone on a gold claim in the Yukon wilderness.

  • Why I Write: Siobhan Fallon

    An army base is a strange place. An army base in a time of war , especially after 4,000 men pack up their duffel bags, put on their uniforms, and leave their wives and children for an entire year. In You Know When the Men Are Gone, I attempt to show that world and the moments that lead up to the separation, the long and difficult absence, the return.

  • Why I Write: Eileen Dreyer

    When I was on maternity leave with my second child, I got the bright idea to read all the classic literature I'd missed in school. Don't get me wrong. I had an excellent education. But I went through high school during the '60s, which meant that instead of Silas Marner, I read Animal Farm. Instead of Dickens, Ralph Ellison. I managed to avoid most English Victorian authors, as well as all the French and Russians.

  • Why I Write: Steven Saylor

    I can't remember the bookshop, or the city where it happened. I can't even remember which book I was promoting, or much about the reader who asked it—but I'll never forget the question.

  • Why I Write: Naomi Novik

    "My grandmother, among other varied professions undertaken during an eventful life, once sold vowels in the market on Tuesdays in Warsaw."

  • Why I Write: Tina Chang

    When I began writing poems, I was struck by how much a poem looked like the physical structure of a house. Each word seemed like a window, each comma a blade of grass, each line was a slow locomotive passing through a quiet town.

  • Why I Write: Mark Kurlansky

    To answer the question of why I wrote my newest book, The Eastern Stars: How Baseball Changed the Dominican Town of San Pedro de Macorís, I first have to ask why I write at all. I have thought a great deal about why I spend usually more than 50 hours a week alone in a room having a conversation with myself.

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