The Divining Wand

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Laura Dave: Why I Write

April 24, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Last May, Laura Dave's (The Divorce Party, London Is the Best City in America) third novel The First Husband (see presentation/review) was published and described as: "A fresh, funny take on the search for a soulmate." —People.

It's also brilliant, witty, and poignant yet the best news about the novel is that today it comes out as a paperback! Both the content and the flow of Laura's writing are so natural that one might stop occasionally and wonder how does she capture that effortless magic? In today's guest post, the author describes the simple (and successful) reason for why she writes.]

Why I Write

I write because I love to read.

Can it be that simple? Maybe yes, and maybe no. In thinking about the reasons I write, there are so many answers that immediately came to mind. Writing helps me answer questions, it is my primary way of reaching new understandings, it provides me a sense of joy, and it has (long before I did it professionally) helped me figure out my place in the world.

All of those answers are true. But the most true answer is the first one. I write because I love to read. I have loved to read since I was too young to even know what I was reading. For me, writing is the natural extension of reading. It is the other side of the same conversation about what makes our narratives feel special—the unique ways we experience joy, work through relationships and figure out what we want our lives to be. Writing is another way to experience stories, another way to share them.

While working on my novel The First Husband, I often returned to the notebook I’ve kept since I was in High School—which is really a testament to my love of reading. It is a notebook of quotes and ideas from things I’ve read that touched me. Things that I didn’t want to forget. Ideas that came from a variety of reading sources: favorite novels and biographies and memoirs and plays and poetry collections. Bad magazines and beautiful story collections. All the words that stuck with me, like only music or words can.

In thinking about why I write, I opened it again to look through it. One of my favorite quotes (a very apropos one!) popping out at me immediately.

“Keep in mind that the only person to write for is yourself. Tell the story you most desperately want to read.” – Susan Isaacs

And as I start looking through some of the others—Ernest Hemmingway’s advice on writing (“write one true sentence”); Toni Morrison’s thoughts on love (“He can’t value you more than you value yourself”); W.S. Merwin’s thoughts on dreams (“We are asleep with compasses in our hands.”)—I get that familiar desire to sit down and start telling a new story. Or get back to figuring out an old one.

Reading does that. Which is why, when I’m stuck, when I don’t know how to finish a sentence or a chapter or how to begin one, I’ll throw my books down from the bookshelf and sit on the carpet with ten books and have a little reading party. Just to remind myself that reading and writing is a messy, wonderful business.

And that I write because it is.

For more from Laura Dave, please follow her on Twitter, become a friend of on Facebook and enjoy The First Husband available in paperback today!

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Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of The First Husband by Laura Dave — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

9 Comments to “Laura Dave: Why I Write”


  1. This is the first time I’ve heard of a writer say so clearly how the love of reading made her a writer! I echo the sentiments; I can’t remember not loving to read.

    I’ve been in a dry spell as of late, almost wondering if I should just stick with the love of reading rather than trying to write fiction, too. This post is an encouraging nudge.

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  2. Really sounds like a great book.

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  3. I have been wanting read this book for forever! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    I loved reading Ms. David’s post – I love getting into the minds of authors.

    Thanks for the great post!

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  4. Beautiful post! I’ve really been wanting to read The First Husband!

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  5. Wendy Kinsey says:

    I have heard a lot about this book lately. Now I really want to read it.

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  6. jpetroroy says:

    I adore that Susan Isaacs quote!

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  7. Laura Dave sounds like a talented writer. I would love to read her book.

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  8. I have been wanting to read this book since the author and Jonathan Tropper did an event in NY last year – now that it is out in PB it’s on my radar again!

    Thanks for hosting this giveaway!

    booksncity (at) gmail (dot) com

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  9. Amy Bromberg says:

    Great post Laura. I too have been wanting to read this since it first came out in hard cover. Great giveaway…but then all of yours are :)

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