July M. Sanchez-Sadowski: March 2018 Barefoot Writing Challenge Winner

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Congratulations to July M. Sanchez-Sadowski for Winning the March 2018 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)

The challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:

What is your big reason WHY for writing? WHY do you write?

July shared a moving account of the long-term role writing has played in her life, along with how she plans to factor it into her future. Enjoy her winning submission:


My big reason for why I write is that I have to. I’m compelled to write. It is the inescapable movement I’m drawn to. I’m driven to write because deep down, within the core of my being, I’ve always been a writer.

My three first loves are reading, writing, and coffee (but that’s a story for another day). And those loves have made room for and become more important (especially the coffee) as my life has grown with marriage and motherhood.

In 1983 I got my first diary, a Ramona Quimby diary, where I could fill in my deepest, innermost thoughts. Mostly, I just wrote about the blue-eyed, blond boy I had a crush on. That’s where writing started for me. The year 1984 is when I discovered the magic of books. I read my first no-picture chapter books that school year, and from then on, I loved words, both reading and writing them. 

I learned the power and magic of words when I was a little girl. I’ve spent my time since then learning how to harness that power within myself.

In my office is a file folder of poems that I wrote dating back to 1988. Also in that file folder is a smaller packet — my first book of poetry, collected and compiled in 1992.

I turned a corner on becoming a writer in January 1993, when I attended UNM Fest at the University of New Mexico with my theater class. I attended a script-writing workshop, and the one thing that has stayed with me all these decades later is that “to be a writer you need to write.”

That’s when I started journaling.

I have 48 journals. Some are spiral or composition notebooks, and others are beautiful journaling books. Some are full of my thoughts, others are not. Number 49 is on my bedside table, keeping up on my day to day.

There’s nothing else I’ve ever done with as much consistency. I’ve got writing that goes back 35 years. Through life’s ups and downs, changes and moves, I’ve written.

I have no choice in being a writer. Even if I’m not at my computer pounding out words, I’m composing in my head. My whole internal dialogue is just that: a dialogue in the script that is my life. When I write, I’m most authentically myself.

I write because, though I have other skills, and demands on my time and energy, I wrote first. And I suspect that if I lost everything tomorrow, I’d write about it.

I write because for the first time in my whole life, I feel like my constant writing can be turned into something more: A career that will provide for my children’s education. A career that will provide financial freedom for my husband and me. A career that will give that girl who compiled her first book of poetry her dream come true… to be a (paid) writer.

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