I write for attention. I so wanted a purer, nobler, more literary reason–an inextinguishable artistic fire, that I would combust were it not for my beloved words, the melodic sentence, my lifeblood. Not me. While I work my tail off to get the language right, my writing finds its roots in common childhood deprivation: I want to be heard, seen, possibly cared for, but not as myself. Too risky. I operate through quirky, banged-up characters. My characters yearn or are in pain or do their utmost to outrun their pain. I pray my readers feel this; that they care, even if they dislike a given character.
The other reason I write is because I can. I’m halfway decent at it. I consider this a gift and feel strongly that it is my responsibility to use it or it’s wasted. This may be the artistic fire I’m afraid I lack. Instead of burning me up, mine presents as a constant, a knowing, how I’ve always been, like sister or daughter.
Besides, writing brings me great pleasure. A word, the EXACT-RIGHT verb–most recently “avoid,” delivered to my head while driving on Clark Street–can make everything all right. Of course writing also hurts like a mother. I’m never doing it as much as I should or well enough. Still, as often as I can I pick up my pen or tap at my keys and, hopefully, I’ll move, or confuse, or crack you up, whatever it takes to get you to feel something for me.
COLEY GALLAGHER is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. She lives outside Chicago with her husband and four children. You can read her story “Snatch” here.