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August 2015

Why I Write - Jenny Milchman

I'm thrilled to have the talented suspense writer Jenny Milchman share Why She Writes! I don't know anyone more dedicated to books and helping fellow authors than Jenny. And she writes darn good books, too!

Jenny Pic

I write because the stories are a whitewater river that sweeps me away.

I write because I always have, from before I knew how to, when I’d dictate bedtime stories to my mom, and she would copy them down.

So maybe it’s not just writing we’re talking about—it’s storytelling.

I tell stories to leave one life and live another.

I tell stories to conquer fear. In becoming my heroine, I do things I hope I never have to, in ways I could only hope to.

I tell stories to weave a bridge between you and me, reader and writer, connections I may never know exist, transmitting messages across a powerful network of invisible cables.

What about the metaphors we use for writing? Spinning webs, weaving yarns, scattering fairy dust.

Giant, gripping arms wrapping themselves around me, sinking their claws into my brain.

I write because the story takes hold and won’t let go, a King Kong’s fist shaking me until I have to tell it so it will finally put me down, breathless and gasping.

I write because there are characters who appear and I owe them life.

I write because presents amass, as if under some great Christmas tree, and who can not unwrap a present? Inside is a story that has to be told.

I write because it’s a privilege, a gift that offers me a hint of the divine.

I write because it’s the closest I come to making magic.

I write because I love to.

I write because I love. -- Jenny Milchman

Jenny Milchman is a novelist from New York State, who lived for eleven months on the road with her family on what Shelf Awareness called “the world’s longest book tour.”

Jenny’s debut novel, COVER OF SNOW, won the Mary Higgins Clark award, was praised by the New York Times, AP, and many other publications, and chosen as an Indie Next and Target Pick. RUIN FALLS, published the following year, landed on many bookstore Best Of lists, was chosen as an Indie Next Pick and a Top Ten of 2014 by Suspense Magazine. Jenny’s third novel, AS NIGHT FALLS, also an Indie Next Pick, came out this summer.

Jenny speaks nationwide about the publishing industry and the importance of sticking to a dream. She is Vice President of Author Programming for International Thriller Writers, and the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which is celebrated in all 50 states and 6 foreign countries. Jenny teaches writing and publishing for New York Writers Workshop.

Why I Write - S.G. Browne

I'm super excited that the very first contributor to the Writespiration Why We Write section is none other than S.G. Browne. ::insert screaming crowd::

I've only read Breathers (OMG, best zombie novel EVAR), but we own everything S.G. has ever written (and hubby has read, and loves, them ALL). In fact, he just finished Less Than Hero just today (see cheesy pic at bottom).

Once I get my 3rd Tarot book written, I'm starting on Fated (Ron's always bugging me "Have you read it yet? Have you read it yet?"). 

OK, enough gushing! It's time to find out why S.G. Browne writes...

Author Pic SGBrowne 600

Ask a room full of writers why they write and you’re likely to get a room full of answers.

To tell a story. To be read by others. To make sense of the world. To make money. To maintain their sanity.

While I can’t speak for other writers, it’s rarely been just one or another reason for me but a combination of several reasons. And over the years, those reasons have shifted.

Thirty years ago, while reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub, I became so caught up in the adventure unfolding on the pages that the world outside of the book ceased to exist. And I thought: I want to make someone feel like this.

That was the first time I realized I wanted to be a writer. So when I started writing on a steady basis, my motivation was to not only be read by others but to make them feel the same way I felt when I read a good book. I also wrote because I wanted to become a published writer. More than that, I wanted to make a living as a writer. While I wasn’t writing for the money (because let’s face it, most writers don’t make enough to live on), I was writing toward the goal of supporting myself as a full-time writer. It wasn’t purely financial motivation, but more a goal of being financially independent doing something that I loved.

To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau: I wanted to go confidently in the direction of my dreams and live the life I imagined.

For the better part of twenty years, this remained one of the major driving forces behind why I wrote. But I also had stories I wanted to tell. I wanted to make sense of the world around me through my writing. And I wanted to share my literary vision with others. That’s what got me up at six in the morning to write for two hours each day before going to work and it’s what put me at my desk for another two hours every night before I went to sleep.

When I first started writing, I wrote straight supernatural horror. But in 2002 something shifted and I started writing dark comedy and social satire. So rather than writing to scare myself and others, I wrote to make commentary on our society in a way that was darkly humorous. I wrote to make myself and others laugh while thinking about the world in which we live. And I still do.

After I sold my first novel, Breathers, in 2008, my motivation for becoming a published author and full-time writer were realized, so those motivations took a back seat to my other reasons for writing—primarily creating stories that mattered to me. That’s not to say creating stories that mattered to me was ever a lesser reason for writing than any of my other reasons. It was always one of the main driving forces behind my writing. After all, if the story doesn’t matter to me, then why should I expect it to matter to anyone else?

The funny thing is, once you start to earn a living as a writer, you realize there are now other people out there who are reading your novels and who have expectations. So once I published a second novel and then a third, while I was still writing to tell the stories I wanted to tell, I was also writing for an audience.

So there are a lot of reasons why I write.

I write to tell stories. I write to make commentary on society. I write to make myself and readers who share my sense of humor laugh. I write to make others feel the way I do when I read a good story. I write to make sense of the world. But I also write because I’m happier when I’m writing than when I’m not. Writing nourishes my soul. It also provides a respite from reality.

Ray Bradbury once said: “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Based on that advice, I plan to stay drunk for as long as I can.

-- S.G. Browne

S.G. Browne is the author of the novels Less Than Hero, Big Egos, Lucky Bastard, Fated, and Breathers, as well as the eBook short story collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel and the heartwarming holiday novella I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus. He lives in San Francisco. You can learn more about his writing at or follow him on Twitter at @s_g_browne.


Note from Janet: Also see S.G.'s piece The Writing Life: You Are Not Alone on Medium here. Below, my awesome husband giving a thumb's up to S.G.'s latest! Big thanks to S.G. for taking the time to share why he writes with us. 

Ron Less Hero 600

Introducing Why We Write

Why We Write 600

I’m pleased to present another new feature on Writespiration: Why We Write.

Inspired by the book of the same name (have it, love it), I realized that many writers often stop and ask themselves “Why do I write?” Let’s face it: hundreds of jobs are oh-so-much easier than writing.

This question usually surfaces during times of discouragement or weariness—or after some type of criticism or (perceived) rejection.

Lately, I’ve been asking myself the same question.

A lot.

Not only is it beneficial to ask “Why do I write?”—but it also helps to read why other writers “keep on keepin’ on”.

What motivates writers? Why do we slog on year after year after year—even in the face of poverty, a required “day job”, parenthood (read: sleepless nights), multiple rejections, negative reviews or (gasp) stalking?

Or, despite accolades, rave reviews and continued book deals—why do writers sometimes feel unfulfilled, cynical, misanthropic—yet, can’t stop writing?

In Why We Write, you’ll get an intimate view of writers sharing their hearts and motivations for showing up at the keyboard or moleskin notebook—day after day after day.

Perhaps their journeys and reasons for writing will help you stay on the path.

Or, maybe, give you a sensible reason to (finally) hang it up for good...