Old Moon

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Do You Write?

Frequently a writing contest shows up that asks the question, "Why do you write?" Many an author has answered that question, some seriously and some not so seriously. It strikes many as a foolish question and others as a profound one. I'd guess there are not numberless answers. They might begin with the personal and range all the way to messianic motives. Each answer would give a reader some idea of the personality and aspirations of the answerer, but I bet there would be a limited number of headings under which those answers would fall. Would anyone reading this be willing to help with a survey? Just post a comment?

I write because I can't help it. The better question would be why can't I help it?

First, I need to find out what I know; second, I need to discover what I don't know; third, I need to note what I must not forget. I am an indifferent amateur painter and the other visual arts are beyond my talents altogether; I can't perform music. I find I can put words on paper. They can do what nothing else can.

With a poor memory and perhaps a little too much emotion, the act of writing helps to suggest the perspective I need to cope with what is happening or what has happened to me, and to suggest how one experience might be useful to others. Utility is not quite all there is to that. Love for rhythm and cadence and image-making, and the opportunity to cause a chuckle or the frisson of recognition are involved.

Writing is the corollary to reading. All the words that have instructed and inspired and comforted and exhilarated me through all the years of a long life convince me that if I could find the readers, even I could add to that legacy. I can't resist the temptation to try.
I care about how words can conjure and reveal; I respect the fact that if you think (as opposed to dream or imagine) you need words. They matter.

Most people want to live a life that matters. After my children, words seem to be my best opportunity to accomplish that, on however small a scale.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I write because, for most of my life, writing was the only way I felt I could express myself. Many times it still is the only way I can communicate with someone I love.

JLC said...

I'm sure you're one of a great many people not given "the gift of gab" who feel the same. I'm one of them.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I like your reasons for writing. They fit me to a tee.
I want to share and what better way to reach an audience than through writing. But I also write for all those reasons you gave. I have to write something every day it seems. I have to.

JLC said...

I wish I could manage it, and when I'm home, I usually do. At the moment, I'm far from home and completely subject to others' schedules. Thank goodness for a laptop!