Why must you write?

I think I came out of the womb writing. The first thing I ever sold was when I was 10 years old. A five-part serial to the Cleveland News young people’s column. And before that I was doing my own little newspaper in the neighborhood. I’ve always written. I never decided to be a writer, I was just… There’s a scene of a film called “The Red Shoes,” where Moira Shearer, who was a brilliant ballerina, is talking to the ballet entrepreneur. A Balanchine kind of figure. And he says to her, “Why must you dance?” She wants to join his company and she thinks about it a moment and then she says to him, “Why must you breathe?” And he says, “I must!” And she smiles and walks away. I didn’t choose to be a writer. Thats what I am — I’m a writer.”

— Harlan Ellison

I used to make my own newspapers, too. End geeky aside.

Becoming a writer

“Because, in truth, I didn’t become a writer the first time I put pen to paper or when I finished my first book (easy) or my second one (hard). You see, in my view a writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. Wasn’t until that night when I was faced with all those lousy pages that I realized, really realized, what it was exactly that I am.”

– Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” featured in Oprah.com