Why We Write

December 29, 2007

Why We Write – Number 6: Reader Submitted Essay

Filed under: Uncategorized — Charlie Craig @ 1:23 pm

  Number 6

Today’s piece is written by Marshal Gordon, Freelance screenwriter, creator of nothing you’ve seen yet.


I remember the first time I sat down and actually wrote something. I was all of 9 years old and decided I would write a short story.  A meaningful short story about life and love lost full of angst and pathos. Ok, at 9 what the hell did I know about life and love lost and angst and pathos.  At that age I probably couldn’t pronounce angst or pathos. But I was determined.

In the years that followed I wrote more, plays, short stories and poetry anything that came to mind, but I never told anyone.  I kept everything spirited away.  In my world young Black boys didn’t do stuff like that.  We played basketball, football, tough guy stuff.  But I knew somewhere in me that there was a writer.  I’d go to the movies and marvel at the worlds that were created and imagine myself writing and acting in them myself.

I never told anyone not even my family until….high school!  I took my first drama class and did my first play.  Now I have to admit that I had ulterior motives.  Naturally a girl.  I had my first taste of being on stage and getting laughs but more importantly I got to kiss the girl.  Now I have to give an important plot piece her because this was the first time I actually wrote something that was actually performed.  There was no kissing scene for my character in this play, but I really wanted to kiss this girl, did I mention she was really, really pretty?  So inspired, I convinced the drama teacher to let me put in a scene that would get laughs and at the same time advance the play.  The teacher bought it and the scene worked great, we got huge laughs!  And the girl was so impressed that the kiss got better and better over the three performances.  That experience convinced me that there might be something connected to the whole writing guy gets the girl thing.

So my secret was out and decided to go all out.  I started a politically themed poetry and dance group that and that’s where I found out what words could really do.  I found people listening to the words I wrote and being moved by them.  And again…it got the girls only this time older college aged girls.  Suddenly the pen was mightier than the basketball.  College was series of drugs, acting, more poetry except I had advanced from political to the kind of things that made women sigh and wish their boyfriends would be as sensitive.  Nothing like being the guy that stole the girl with a well turned sonnet.

Cutting to Act 2 …the reality of life for a young Black male considering writing as a career was not a prudent career choice. So I found myself in the corporate world slaving away for “THE MAN”, for myself, married, divorced, married, separated, together, divorced again, clinically depressed, cancer ridden and to top it off homeless.  All the while I continued to write convinced that it was somehow in me to do so.  The problem was how you get the girl when you’re homeless.

I knew I had to get out of my situation.  And that’s when I BECAME A WRITER!  Well, actually first I became a fake perfume salesman. “Big Bottle last long time.”  It also put enough money in my pocket to earn a enough to hire people to help me sale and get me into an office suite, that I lived in.  My trick was a poem for every bottle purchased.  I would show women my writing and they would believe that they were being bohemian.

All this lead me to finally making the leap of faith onto an Amtrak ride to Los Angeles where I could do the sofa circuit and tell people that I had gone to live out my dream to finally be a WRITER!  Well, actually first I became a business consultant, telemarketer, tour manager for a B level R&B singer, but I kept writing and when people asked me what I did during my daily basketball games…my reply was always…writer/ consultant/ telemarketer/ tour manager.  Isn’t everyone in Los Angeles a hyphenate?  But at least the Writer part feels real and true now.

The reason that no matter what I have done in life that writing has always been a constant is that there is power in words for everyone.  Be it making us laugh, reflect, angry or just making us think.  And for me there is nothing more exhilarating or rewarding as seeing someone’s eyes light up as they read my words or I imagine them being played out.  Ok well, maybe getting the girl is still the most exhilarating thing, but then this is an article about “Why We Write”.  Oh wait, that is why I write.  But I have to wonder if this strike goes much longer will the women still be impressed as if I utter the words …. “I’m a writer”… right after I say… “Welcome to Wal-Mart”?


WHY WE WRITE is a series of essays by prominent – and not so prominent – TV and Film writers.  Conceived by Charlie Craig and Thania St. John, the campaign hopes to inspire and inform all writers during the strike, and perhaps beyond.  If you’d like to comment, or tell us why you write, visit the Why We Write WordPress site or contact us at whywewrite@gmail.com.


  1. Awe. Some.

    Comment by Bon — December 29, 2007 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

  2. I realize that this was reader submitted, and probably printed as is, but do you think someone could do a quick copyedit? There are typos and punctuation problems that make this a less than stellar contribution to “why we write.” I like the sentiments, but the errors are distracting. Cheers.

    Comment by moonmarked — December 30, 2007 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  3. Hey, Moonmarked, I don’t disagree with you, but wouldn’t you think that’s an excellent reminder of (one of the many reasons) why we so need our pros back at work?

    Eh… maybe not (as the fans never see the written word anyway), but that was my reaction to the flow-breaks.

    (I comment too often.)


    Comment by Bon — January 1, 2008 @ 4:03 pm | Reply

  4. Yeah, I debated. Did a little cleaning up but left it pretty much as is. We’ll see how the next one goes…

    Comment by Charlie Craig — January 2, 2008 @ 1:21 am | Reply

  5. I agree with you, Mr. Craig. As one who reads a lot of amateur fiction (some of it in the “fan fiction” realm), I always told everyone that I did critiques for that they should put their “best foot” forward all the time; that is, they should always strive to have properly edited grammar and punctuation in their writing. Unless they’re going for strange James Joyce-ian paragraphs. But only if they can prove they can write first.

    Comment by Trisha Lynn — January 2, 2008 @ 7:32 am | Reply

  6. Although I have sympathy for you, Mr. Gordon (I’m black and a struggling writer), getting girls isn’t really a bonafide reason for writing. When was the last time a writer got groupies?

    That reminds me of an episode of the short-lived “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” where a groupie for a baseball player who was invited on the variety show, sharing the same name, asked Matt Albie (Matthew Perry), “When you say you write for the show, what does that mean?”

    It’s okay to dream, but dream with your feet still on the ground. Write, but write because you have something to say.

    Comment by Roy — January 4, 2008 @ 11:06 am | Reply

  7. I have to say I am impressed that my little contribution was even printed. Thank you Charles, I appreciate your kindness. Because truthfully, I did not expect it to be and only today through a friend found that it had indeed made it through. Therefore, I will be grateful for that as well as the comments, which ouch, are still graciously accepted. The typos errors ECT, I guess I will chalk it up to dyslexia and poor English study skills. The only comment I take exception to is the last. Whatever reasons for which one writes are his or hers alone to determine. The fact that you chose to notice one aspect of why I write proves the point that we will receive them in many ways and that is the beauty of it all. That we take from it what we choose based the feelings they bring out for us personally. Therefore, writing for me good, bad or indifferent does not begin or end with impressing women but with allowing me to express myself. People will appreciate it warts and all or not but at the end of it all I will appreciate whatever reactions my words bring out in people. My feet are firmly on the ground and I write because I believe I do in fact have something to say. If benefits such as getting the girl and financial windfalls or simply seeing them in print or acted out on the screen, come my way as a result I think I will be ok with that. Moreover, man am I glad it is ok to Dream; I will just do it in a more constructive way.

    Oh, and I promise in an effort to “put my best foot forward” rather than in my mouth, to make sure I can hire an assistant to catch all those mistakes my dyslexia allows through even with spell check.

    Comment by Marshal — April 17, 2008 @ 10:44 pm | Reply

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