Literary agent to John Grisham, David Gernert encourages writers to “write well, and to write as much as you can,” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers ( However, the rest of the article is littered with the reality of what it means to be an editor, publisher, or writer in this day and age.

“Just pray that Barnes & Noble stays healthy,” Gernert claims. Yikes.

In another part of the magazine, wife and mother Jamie Quatro shares her life story in, “What It Takes: The Messy, Beautiful Business of Being a Writer Parent,” another scary look into the realities of living your life in a profession such as this. This, though. This scary, frightening, nerve-wracking, rewarding, beautiful, breath-taking profession. This is writing. This is life. Richard Smolev’s article, “Why We Write: Life Seems Inconceivably Rich” nails it perfectly, as he describes his life as a retired attorney living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“But I never truly escape the brutal reality of ALS. As I write, the thick plastic splints on my fingers inevitably touch two keys and not the one at which I’m aiming, or put a space inside a word because I’ve overshot the M or the N. The red lines underlining all my misspellings taunt that I will live out my time as a cripple, returning to a world defined by what I can neither do nor expect to do on my own the moment I say good night to my characters and push my wheelchair away from my desk.”

Smolev has just finished his second novel and has inscribed a book to his newborn grandson, Bode, with whom he is holding on the cover.

“I’ll be dead long before we’ll have a chance to really get to know each other, but whether it’s fifteen or twenty years from now, Bode will be able to look at the picture of the two of us, to hear my voice through what my characters say, and to lose himself in their struggles. I’ll be telling my grandson a story. What more could I ask of life?”


I write because it’s therapeutic. I write because I feel free. I write because I see the words dance across the page, and there is no other happiness. I write because I don’t like who I am when I’m not doing what I love.

Why do you write?




  1. I agree, writing is very therapeutic. I like to write fiction because it allows me to get out of my own head and pretend I’m someone else for a while, and I also like to write more personal stuff (that people don’t usually see) to help me process the situation and my own thoughts.

  2. I am always interested in reading from those who face challenges. I am currently reading The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. It was written by a man who suffered a stroke, and upon waking from his coma realized he was completely paralyzed due to locked-in syndrome. The entire book was written by him blinking his left eye as someone went through the alphabet and he blinked at the correct letter. I think that’s amazing.

    Writing truly is therapeutic. I write because I have to. I need to write. For freedom, for truth, beauty, hope, love, clarity, sorting, and above all else for peace.

  3. I’m personally not much of a writer, but I wish I were. I like the idea of writing, and the results of writing; I just hate the process of writing. I feel like it takes me forever to say anything worthwhile, and the majority of my time is spent staring at my computer screen with no idea what to say. Any ideas on how to overcome this? I find it amazing to hear about stories of people who overcome such great obstacles to create things (like writing, or painting), and yet preserver through it all. It’s inspiring, and it makes me want to write.

    1. Jonni,

      Totally universal feelings you have there. Unfortunately, it just comes easier to some than it does to others. I have found that you write best when you have something to say. And quite frankly, I think pretty much everyone ALWAYS has something to say, so the next part is deciphering what should be said and what shouldn’t. Keep in mind your audience, also. If you are interested in some reading materials to find out more about the process of writing I would suggest Alice LaPlante’s book. It is basically a guide to writing fiction but the tools and suggestions she has are surely not only for that purpose. Check it out.

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