Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"Why do you write fiction?"

"Why do you write fiction?" It's a question I am often asked by college students, media-related executives and friends of friends and readers during my everyday travels in Boston.

I usually answer, "Why not? It's a part of whom I am."

But my reasons are more layered than that simple response.

I write about things that I recognize in my life but hadn't read in my favorite novels.

I write the stories that I had wanted to read in high school, college, post-college, even in my 30s but had troubling finding at book stores. (I still do at least in English.)

I write because I didn't know that people like me (gay Latino authors in the US) had existed in the literary world until I began sharing my own creative writing with others. I write to continue to contribute to our small but growing numbers.

I write to provide a more flattering literary mirror for guys like me and my friends - Hispanic, Italian, all-American, kind-of-youngish, professional - looking for our place in this chaotic and ever-changing world as we call each other or meet up each week to talk about our personal and professional successes and struggles.

I write to present a fuller image of what it's like to be gay and Latino today so that people can see that the tired and obvious stereotypes (which I won't state here) that we see on television and in films are far from the truth.

I write to entertain and hopefully make people temporarily forget about their daily problems.

I write fiction because I secretly can't wait to see one of my books on an i-Pad or other digital reader.

I write fiction because I love staring out at the audience during a book reading and catching my parents looking at me with pride as I discuss one of my novels (even though they probably don't understand what I'm saying in English.)

I write to establish an intimate and universal connection with fellow readers who sometimes write to me to share their own stories after reading one of my books.

I write to let loose from the constraints of formal daily journalism. (I can't say Oye, Booyah and Cono in my news articles. I've tried. Ok, that last line is a joke, people.)

I write fiction so I can get away with writing cheezy sentences like the one above.

I write fiction because it's fun to role-play on paper and temporarily adapt another personality to present another perspective and experience.

I write fiction because I cannot not write fiction.