Why is the world the way it is? Why are people incapable of just letting each other live in peace? Why do good people sometimes do bad things?

Those are some of the whys I’ve been pondering lately. But the biggest one, perhaps because it’s personal, is why do I write?

I haven’t so far been able to fully answer that question. Certainly there’s an element of compulsion: I’m in the habit of writing, I don’t feel as if I’ve accomplished anything if I don’t write each day. I also relish the learning, not just from research. I’m always trying to make myself a better writer. If I were a lady of leisure and means, I’d enroll in an MFA program solely for the joy of digging into my craft.

Partly, too, it’s because I’m a frustrated teacher. I really wanted to be a music history professor, but by the time I got my PhD, my life wasn’t in the kind of shape where I could take a low-level job offer and move across the country, so that dream—apart from a year as a visiting assistant professor at Columbia—never materialized. In fact, it was that disappointment that led me to writing historical fiction in the first place.

I think ultimately it’s the challenge that keeps me persisting, even when I have no guarantee of being published again. I have to remind myself to feel how much of an accomplishment it is to write, rewrite, edit, rewrite etc. and end up with a finished product that people might actually want to read.

Or maybe it’s something else…