why I write fiction

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My writing group did a free writing exercise on why we write this week. I like to express myself politically, socially, professionally. But why I write fiction is a little harder to explain...Sometimes, I feel like my characters “visit” me. They give me a glimpse of what they look like and who they are; I see snapshots of facial features, or feel elements of their moods. Once in a while, as I sit on the streetcar or rinse conditioner out of my hair in the shower, a few lines of dialogue or a snatch of description will “arrive”. And then I feel it’s my job to string all of that together. I wish these glimpses and images and bits of prose would come more often, and stay longer. It would make it much easier to write, wouldn’t it? … At other times, especially when I am busy with marking and consulting, I listen distractedly, write down what I can on scraps of paper, and vow to make time later… So here’s what I wrote during the 10 minute free-writing exercise: 

His voice whispers

Sound seeping out of walls

Passing through sheetrock

Four layers of latex paint

Her’s comes in dreams

Prodding me to sleepwalk through dark hallways  

 Interpret dialects

Tap out their messages

Like morse code, imperfect

Sometimes indecipherable   

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