Why I Write
I grew up with stories of writing. My mother, aged three, learning to write with a stick in the sand, in a Japanese prison camp where people risked their lives to keep diaries. Writing with stubs of pencil on scraps of cloth and in the margins of books; finding ingenious hiding places to keep the diaries safe from searches. People who were often ill, always hungry, in fear for their lives and writing, always writing.
When, as an adult, I tracked down the diaries kept by the prisoners, I was struck by the different accounts of the same hardships: factual accounts of the injustices meted out in the camp; wistful accounts written for sisters and parents back home; accounts fired through with compassion even towards the people responsible for the suffering of the prisoners. The same story, it seemed, could be told in a hundred different ways. And it had to be told. These writers risked their lives to tell their stories. They were compelled to write, just as I was compelled to read.
The stories took me to a place and time I couldn’t otherwise have imagined. But the magic didn’t end there. Because I could feel the sand under my feet, and see the words written by my mother with her stick; I could hear cicadas and macaws and the colour of the sky when it swelled with rain. I wasn’t just transported; I was there, in the story.
Like any child, I read to escape. The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, the adventure stories of Enid Blyton, Lorna Hill’s ballet stories…
But the greatest thrill was when I found Jane Eyre. Because I recognised this girl. This was better than escapism; this was finding myself in pages written years and years before I was born by someone who had somehow created a girl who felt the way I did and thought the way I did. That was the moment I knew: books are alchemy. Writing is alchemy.
When I write, I hope to do two things: to pay a debt to an idea in my head and to connect. I want my readers to feel they’ve escaped into another world but one which they recognise, which resonates. Without that grain of truth, a story is simply about being taken out of the world for a few hours. I want my stories to bring readers back again, with fresh eyes and new questions.
I write out of curiosity, and to provoke curiosity in others.
All my writing notebooks are filled with questions. Who, how, when, why? I love questions more than cake. So please, if you see me at a book event or on Twitter, ask me a question. Anything at all. Feed the writer.
Thank you SO much Sarah.
Find out more here: http://sarah-crawl-space.blogspot.co.uk/
Follow Sarah on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/sarah_hilary
Sarah’s BRILLIANT debut – Someone Elses Skin is available now: Don’t miss it.
Happy Reading Folks!