WHY I WRITE.
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who asked me why, with a full time job that’s not writing, do I continue writing and freelancing in my spare time? The answer I gave her was a bit complex, but I think it’s important to examine in a larger context. I am a woman, I am a Mexican American, I am a Latina and, as a writer, all of these things impact the reason why I write.
As a reader, I’m often frustrated that the offerings of Latina writers in the mass media are very limited. It’s easier to find “ethnically appropriate” content, about food or music or fashion or loud relatives, but what about politics and fiction? Why can’t I find Latina authors on the pages of national newspapers? Where are the Latinas on the best seller’s list? That’s the kind of stuff I want to read, the stuff I never get to.
What’s more, as a woman, I experience the same thing when I browse the names of authors. My favorite writers are men, most of the books and articles I read are written by men. And it’s not that I dislike men in general, but the experiences and nuances and particulars of the world look somewhat different when described by women.
So, in a sense, I write what I would like to read. I’m writing to myself because, if I don’t do it, there are very few others that will.
I’ve been a journalist for about a decade now. During that time, I’ve more often than not been the only woman, or the only person of color, in the pack of reporters in any given place. Pushing aside the sad sociological implications of these facts, tangibly it means that no one has been writing the things I want to read for a very long time. If I don’t write it, who will?
While I don’t think I’m the best writer in the world — by any means — but I feel like I owe it to myself and all of the other Latina writers out there, aspiring and otherwise, to contribute to the solution to what I perceive to be a problem. Instead of just complaining about what’s not out there, I figure, I can contribute to a solution.
And while I always perceive my writing as a work-in-progress, at least it’s progressing somewhere. Perhaps, also, as other Latina writers stumble across it, they might be emboldened to write themselves. In that case, we’ll have two Latinas working to ameliorate the Latina writing shortage — instead of just one.
This blog was previously published on July 16, 2012.