Teaching Writing

Janie Chodosh: Why I Write


Janie Chodosh is a member of the NWP Writers Council as well as an author, educator, naturalist, and rock climber. Originally published on October 20, 2018

The first thing I remember writing was a song for my first-grade teacher — the second thing was a modern retelling of Cinderella (complete with music) for my elementary school. In high school and college, days before email, I wrote letters to everyone I knew — long letters. I passed equally long notes to friends during class, kept journals, and filled notebooks with poems, stories, and reflections. Now, with three published books, I know that I write because I have to.

I do not have a choice.

I write because I am most alive in words and ideas. I write because it is the way to make sense of the world. I love making up new characters, giving them voice, and creating their world. Sometimes I live vicariously. Sometimes I crack myself up. Sometimes I make myself cry. Sometimes I bore myself and then I go read a book — because as much as I love writing, I love reading.

Besides being a writer, I am a naturalist and conservationist. To me, the natural world, like the world of creativity and imagination, is a miracle. I don’t mean miracle in a religious sense, although perhaps that depends on how you define religion, but in the sense of inspiring deep awe. There is magic in everything from a hermit crab to an elephant, just as there is magic in words and images. So what I love to do best is blend these two things.

I write for love, for passion, for mystery, and because I am most myself in the world of nature and the world of words.