Why do I write?
Because if I don’t put all the drama onto the paper, I’ll be forced to live it instead and, really, who deserves to live with someone at that level of intensity?
Why must I write?
Because if I don’t get the story down on my screen and out of my head, it will keep badgering me day and night. Errant bits of dialogue will continually crowd my brain and distract me from anything else I have the audacity to try to do.
Why should I write?
Because it’s the only natural and normal thing for me to do. It’s the literary equivalent of playing with dolls; you get to create characters and then tell them what you want them to do. Like playing make-believe, writing gives you the illusion of being in control. When you plan the storyline and decide on the chapters, you can allow yourself to believe that you are the creator and the one in charge. Well – that is until you start to fill in the blanks and tell the story, and then very quickly realise that you control nothing!
Your characters, once formed, need nothing more from you than for you to record their thoughts, actions and emotions. They frown when you don’t get the words right and when you read back over what you’ve written and realise you didn’t say it quite the way they meant, you hastily rewrite to get back into their good graces. Now, if you think that what I just wrote sounds crazy, then you will begin to understand why I write. Because when you’ve created a whole new personality and given it a voice, you are accountable for getting that voice right. We all know how annoying it is to be misquoted!
When I desperately want to share a story with the world, I go over and over the words on the page, convinced that there’s a better way to say what I’ve just said. And with every rewrite comes the battle to stop myself tossing what I’ve written in the bin, convinced that it should never be allowed to see the light of day and confirm what I suspect; that I simply can’t write. But still I write, because the next day, just as I wake up ready to declare that I cannot, the words graciously start to flow. And another crisis is averted – for now.
Why I write?
To tell stories, especially the stories that validate my own existence and the experiences of bi-cultural people like me, challenged to navigate the sometimes contradictory traditions that surround us. To make people think differently about what they thought they knew. To create a world that I want to inhabit, and where the good far outweighs the bad. To invite others to see into this world and, for a short while at least, to share it with me. To make people laugh – and yes, maybe, cry a little. To demystify the unknown, the ‘other’. I write because sometimes I worry that there are not enough writers telling the stories of people like me. I write to show that fundamentally, despite the diversity of our appearance, just below the shade of skin that we each carry on the outside, we are all the same; we all love, we all cry, we all want to seen, and heard, and accepted.
I write because….well, because it’s when I feel at my most free. I write because it’s when I can just be me.
Frances Mensah Williams
Frances was born in Ghana and, in 2011, voted one of the Top 20 Inspirational Females from the African Diaspora in Europe. She is the author of several non-fiction titles, and now her debut novel, From Pasta To Pigfoot: ‘a powerful story of identity and self-love and empowerment’. Find out more.