This is an interesting question.
Reading The Outsiders by S.E Hinton at age 12 catapulted my writing. I think being a writer goes deeper than connecting with a certain story. That connection alone makes us a reader.
I think there are two main reasons why I write. The first is letting my imagination run wild is just fun, an escape, the greatest high for me. When I was little it started with playing pretend. In grade school, I was bullied a lot. I couldn’t wait to come home and pretend to be somebody else, with some other life.
Another reason, I write to explore things that I don’t understand. When I was a kid, I played with a boy named Joey. He had a beautiful dirt-streaked face and wore the same tattered clothes all the time. He lived next-door to my grandmother. It was a third and fourth-grade friendship. Although he never even held my hand, he would always say cool things like, “When we’re married, we can have a cat and a dog, “or “Once we’re grown-ups we can live on a boat and travel the world.” I always just believed him.
I knew Joey’s mom had passed away, and his dad wasn’t around much. Yet, I only went inside his house one time, but would always remember it. The stack of dirty dishes next to a leaky sink, a refrigerator which bore no magnets and a kitchen counter cluttered with empty beer cans. Some adult must have been around to drink all the beer and install the imperfect plumbing, but there was no sign of them.
Sadly, my grandmother died. I was 10 years old and never saw Joey again. I lost them both really. I always wondered what happened to him.
As a social worker, I’ve collected other stories similar to Joey’s, some much more tragic. I am awed and inspired by the resiliency I’ve seen firsthand. I have also been left with the same feeling, a rumble in my stomach. The rumble I first felt at my friend Joey’s house.
Maybe writing is like self-therapy for me, too.