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Why write a book?

Books were my very first friends. I connected to them in a way that I couldn’t with my immigrant parents, spoiled siblings, or the many well-dressed girls at school. Books were companions and sustenance, teachers, and guides to other lives, other worlds I did not know existed.

Writing can be a cruel taskmaster-long hours of solitude, and if writing a memoir, the drudging up of old stories, old wounds, long scabbed over, only to bleed all over again; never knowing if what you are producing will be good enough, if it’ll be read, if people will judge what you say or how you say it. Follow this by revision upon revision, now with your editor, in a fight to keep the real essence of your story with making it suspenseful, readable, maybe even sellable.

Why do it? For some it is a calling – or like faith. You are not sure why you want to be a doctor, or a nun, you just must. The urge to write is visceral, an intrinsic pull that defies rational explanation. You feel called to write - or if you are a lover of books – you want to write because nothing could mean more than to join the esteemed ranks of writers.

Others are driven by a profound conviction that their personal narrative holds intrinsic value. They envision their story resonating with another soul, much like the books that touched theirs. It becomes a silent crusade to potentially help, transform or inspire someone in the subtlest of ways.

Of course, along the way, we hope for praise, for acknowledgment – that’s normal. We may get validation, fame, or reward – all fruits of good writing, but most of us do not write for that. The path is littered with pitfalls: possible criticism, slander or worse, becoming a total flop. And yet we write. We soldier on, navigating the doubt, foraging, fighting, and fretting a manuscript into existence.  It’s a calling and a curse, a devotion and a duty, a Golem, or a promise. The uncertainty looms large: Will my labor of love be deemed sufficient?  Compelled by an inexplicable force that transcends the sensible, I wrote because I had to.


My book, Redeemed, A Memoir of a Stolen Childhood will be published June 25, 2024.

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1 Comment

Well articulated Penny. I pondered the "why" to your book since I first heard about it. I get it now and admire you more than ever taking this every important step in your own personal growth and development.

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