‘The Writers Afterlife’ Gets Straight to the Heart of Why We Write

It’s a novel every writer should read

Paul Combs
The Book Cafe
Published in
4 min readMar 9, 2022

--

Photo by author (of original cover art from Three Rooms Press)

Why do we write? It’s a question every writer asks themselves, sometimes on a daily basis. Why, rather than subjecting ourselves to the torture of the blank page, don’t we instead take up scrapbooking or the bassoon or rabbit breeding? Surely becoming a rodeo clown or a blacksmith or an encyclopedia salesman are all preferable to pursuing a life as a writer. Yet we persist, so why?

The answers are as many, and as varied, as the number of writers who answer the question. For some it’s just a hobby, while for others it’s a way to make a little (usually very little) extra cash. Some hope that by telling their stories they will make the world a little better place, and some do it just to get the voices in their head to shut up. All of these are valid and several can apply to you at any given time. But for me, and perhaps for you as well, the truly honest answer is the craziest: we do it with the hope of immortality.

In the novel The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon sums up this desire quite simply by admitting that what a writer most covets is “his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him.” Because we are still alive and still writing, we tend to see this desire in the abstract, but what about…

--

--

Paul Combs
The Book Cafe

Writer, bookseller, would-be roadie for the E Street Band. My ultimate goal is to make books as popular in Texas as high school football...it may take a while.