Photo via Visual Hunt. Used with permission.
Someone asked me recently, knowing that I was a writer and knowing I wrote mostly non-fiction and knowing that I often wrote about difficult things, whether I wrote for healing. As in, was writing a cathartic way of lancing a few boils?
I responded in the negative.
And it got me thinking.
Why do I write? Hell, why does anyone write?
It’s not like I have a huge audience of a gazillion people champing at the bit to digest every word I write. It’s not for money, because I don’t earn a living from my writing, although it would be nice. I’m certainly not in a position to give up my day job, as much as I’d like to. And writing is a time consuming activity. Not only is there the act of writing, but you think about writing a lot, so it takes up valuable real estate in your head. You think about not writing, and what you could and should be writing. All the time. Well, I do anyway.
So why the hell do I write? Why would I lay my soul bare, and expose my vulnerabilities and open my kimono for all and sundry to see and critique and (possibly) judge, for no real tangible, monetary reward?
[bctt tweet=”So I guess the simple answer to why I write is this: because I can. And because I have to.”]
So I guess the simple answer to why I write is this: because I can. And because I have to.
Writing helps me work through what I think about something. It clears my mind. If I have a problem that I need to nut out, writing helps me sort through the various thoughts that parade through my brain like floozies looking for a one night stand. I can pull on the thread of a thought and follow it, seeing where it takes me. It could be to a dead end, but it could just as easily lead me down a path I had not even considered. A point of view that I hadn’t entertained, that I didn’t even know that I thought. Where did that come from? Who knows? But I’m glad it’s there, appearing as if from nowhere. A beam of enlightenment, parting the curtains of dark and unrelenting consideration.
Most people don’t think, they just rearrange their prejudices. ~ Howard G. Hendrick
Writing is also about legacy. And I know that makes me sound a bit wanky and possibly a little arrogant, but it’s true.
Last year, I started working on my memoir. And by working, I mean I have written a couple of chapters. What makes writing my memoir a difficult task, particularly from a historical perspective, is that my mother was (is) a secretive woman. I don’t really know much about her: what made her tick, what she thought, why she was the person she was, and the mother she came to be.
My daughter and her children, and their children’s children will have no doubt about the sort of person I was. Or what I thought. It’s all here in black and white. A digital legacy.
[bctt tweet=”We recognise each other, my reader and I. We mightn’t know each other, but we each know the other.”]
And who knows? Some digital archaeologist may find my blog and my books to be a fascinating insight into life in the 21st Century. My discourse could be analysed and deconstructed. I could be the subject of someone’s honours dissertation or thesis. It might even happen in my lifetime. And this, from throwing a few words into sentences and onto a page.
Except writing—my writing—is never thrown. It is purposeful, and flows and ebbs out of me from God knows where. It is a gift, and one that I truly acknowledge as God-given and powerful. Because there’s power in words. There’s power in my words. There’s power in a reader telling me that my writing has resonated with them, or that they love my writing, and they wish that they could write as well as I did.
There’s something awesome about letting the words just flow out, because you know that not everyone can. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone is driven to.
Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs. ~Pearl Strachan Hurd
Not everyone can write and make sense and make a point and make someone feel something.
Because in the end, that’s why I write.
It’s about my words connecting with you, with your experience, with your world view and you feeling that connection. Our connection. We recognise each other, my reader and I. We mightn’t know each other, but we each know the other. With my words I have created a space that we share. A space of knowing. A space of understanding. A space of change.
Because more than anything, words create change.
And I want to change the world.
There it is.
I write to change the world.
Then how about buying me a glass of wine — or even two! — for writing such an awesome essay?