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Anna Caltabiano Headshot

Why I Write

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"Why do you write?" I've been asked this question more times than I can remember. Sometimes they're a bit more creative and ask me, "What led you to express yourself through the written word?" But each time I find myself pausing to wonder exactly how I should begin answering this question.

I've always wished that the person asking the question could peer into my mind when I'm writing. Of course, it would be a jumbled mess in there, but once you get past that and the crazy voices muttering on about pronoun antecedent rules, there's a feeling of peace.

I love having the ability to create entire worlds when I write. You can change any rules and pretend that Einstein never existed. You could make the sky green and it would become real, but when you start creating characters, that's when writing becomes really fun.

Little bits of people you see every day manage to get into your character. You begin to realize that that annoying pen-biting habit that guy has in your math class, somehow transferred to your main character and now he too chews pens like an overgrown gerbil.

You realize that it's fun to make your characters as realistic as possible. Your characters have flaws and dreams. In your mind they become as real as your friends. Pretty soon, you find yourself muttering out loud as you write their dialogue.

Once you step back from your finished work, you realize, as I have, that all you've done for the last year or so was take a part of the world you live in and magnify it. You realize that all writing is a reflection of the real world. Sure, some things are changed -- the color of the sky, the characters' names -- but it doesn't make your writing any less real. There are truths even in the fiction you write. You just hope that someone out there can find them.

I see writing as the simplest and most complicated thing I've ever done. On one hand, you spend months at a desk, clicking and clacking at your keyboard. You wear out your "a" and "e" keys on your keyboard, so they end up looking like blank keys. On the other hand, you create worlds and people, giving the reader a mirror to reflect his world, while desperately searching for some mystical concept called "truth."

"Why do you write?"

I don't really think I know. Maybe it's the feeling that I get when my characters become real people in my mind, or the feeling that I'm creating something for someone else to have and hold in their hands. Maybe I like to analyze the world I live in and play pretend.

All I truly know is that I write for the feeling of contentment I get when I tell a story.

Anna Caltabiano is the 16-year-old author of "All That Is Red," a dystopian young adult novel.