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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wistful Wednesday

Why I Write

Editor Unleashed and Smashwords are sponsoring a contest with the theme, "Why Do You Write?" This is a question that does come up frequently when you do interviews to promote your writing and after much vacillating, I decided to submit an entry to this contest. Here is the essay I wrote:

Why do you write? I have been contemplating this question a lot lately, especially as I wait for the results of my labor to bear fruit. Or as I wait for new words to come to help me flesh out the many ideas that are circling in my mind like the rings around Saturn. Why do you write?

There is no simple answer. Like me, and like writing itself, the answer is complex. I write because I couldn’t imagine a life without words. My words. Dotting the page like so many ants that arrive uninvited to the picnic. Taking over everything until my life is just about those words and how I can make them work for me. I write because I have to make sense of life, or because I need to capture something on paper before it is lost to me forever.

Writing, to me, is like breathing. Just as I have to breathe to live, so do I have to write. When I have difficulty breathing because the asthma is kicking in, all I can think about is the next breath and the next until the constriction eases and I can breathe easily once more. So it is with writing. When I am not doing it, I am thinking about it. Plotting out scenes in my head, defining characters, creating new possibilities – thinking about when I can write again. And when I am plagued with writer’s block, it is just like the sensation of my airways closing up in an asthma attack. I don’t breathe easy again until the words return to me and dot my pages like those industrious little ants.

I write to leave a footprint in the sand of humanity. Somewhere down the line, it would be nice to know that I have left something of myself behind that others might be interested in reading. A time capsule, of sorts. A legacy.

I write to communicate with others. To lift one’s spirits or broaden one’s mind, or to simply say “hello.” Whether by email, blog post, status update, or tweet, I write in order to connect with others who are seeking the same connection, or trying to answer the same questions.

Writing is a natural part of my life and has been dictating my life and my actions since I was a young girl. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t carry a pen and paper with me everywhere. In fact, I do believe I started writing from the first time I ever picked up an instrument that would make interesting markings on paper. First came the pictures, then came the words to describe what was happening in them.

All of these many words later, I still write. Why? Because I breathe.

2 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

Same here. If I couldn't write, my head would explode with unwritten words:)

Don't believe me? When I worked full time and was too exhausted to write (due to excess Mommy-hood), the day after my last day I literally locked myself in the bedroom and wrote 60 pages over the course of two weeks. BOY did that feel good!

Margay Leah Justice said...

That sounds like something I would do!