Why Do You Write?

David LevithanIf you haven’t read David Levithan’s Margaret A. Edwards Award acceptance speech, you should.  Excuse me while I have a fan girl moment.  No just a moment.  If you know me, you know I’m not the stuff of fan girl legend. It just isn’t . . . me.  But he had so many things to say that have stuck with me.

I love that he asked his listeners to consider what we do.  He isn’t talking about the individual writer but the strength of community.  Why community?  Why we?  Because we make change happen when we work together.  According to Levithan, we:

  • Make change happen.
  • Raise our voices in stories.
  • Raise the stories and voices of those who have not been heard.

I have to admit, I did have that insecure little moment that we nonfiction writers sometimes have.  Does he mean us too?  Or is he only talking about fiction?  So I flipped on over to check out the winners of this award for young adult literature.  Ah, Walter Dean Myers.  He wrote both noteworthy fiction and nonfiction so I could dive back into the speech.

Levithan doesn’t claim to have all of the answers but he recognizes that as a group, those who write for teens are powerful.  We are powerful because we have a platform from which we can shout what we believe.  We have a platform onto which we can raise other less-frequently heard voices.

And this doesn’t just happen when you write fiction.  Black Lives Matter tells the story of a modern civil rights movement born from the alienation of a segment of our society.  It is a segment that is often shouted down but it insisting right now, today, that it will be heard.

We right for the readers who need these stories.  These readers are the souls of our stories.  They are why we write.

Amen, brother.  Amen.