Why I Write: Meghan McNamara

I’d like to say it’s complicated, but it’s not: I write because I have to—the sensation, a kind of electric pulse, drawn through my finger tips, plucking at the keys, word meeting word, strung together to form a sentence. Often, just as I settle into bed, one of these sentences will come to me—often just a single line—and I’ll scramble to put it into the “Notes” section of my phone before it flits out of my brain again, or nestles deep into my subconscious.

Recent examples include:

“A sunburn on my chest sophomore year—red, like a siren sunrise.”

“White male nostalgia is choking us to death.”

“We are the North Star, each body our own.”

In sixth grade, my stepfather gave me my first laptop, a old IBM brick, which I saved and re-saved my first epic to, printing the pages every so often, and clipping them to my plastic Sanrio clipboard, where I would then edit them with a red ballpoint.

In high school, I excelled in essay writing, though I never developed much of an affinity for it. Increasingly, it became difficult not to invent the truth, for while the saying goes “life is often stranger than fiction” (and certainly this could be said of my own), fictional stories allowed me a certain kind of detachment, the ability to slide into a character, to foment exciting plots, to live a life bigger than my own.

There is something so alluring about the ability to disengage from reality, to live a different life, to travel, to navigate a different social class, a new gender. Such is the benefit of great fiction, this delicate balance between the world the author has created and the way in which the reader has imagined it. Perhaps this is why I am now so enamored with the short form, and its ability to give you just enough.

Hopefully, with this story I have left enough unwritten. Hopefully it takes you to a place I could not have imagined, for in many ways, you, the reader, have created it.

 

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About Meghan McNamara

Meghan is a graduate of George Mason University’s Creative Writing MFA in fiction. Her writing has appeared in such places as District Lit, Door is a Jar, and The Magnolia Review. She is a founding editor and the director of media & marketing at Stillhouse Press, an independent, nonprofit book press based in Northern Virginia. In her other life, she works full time as a sommelier, telling very short stories about wine. She lives with her partner and three rascal cats in Northern Virginia.