Natalie Goldberg asked the question “why do you write?” in her book the other day (well, she didn’t ask it the other day, but I read it the other day), so I answered it in my journal, in another free writing exercise. My favorite part is the last part, I think it gets better and more real, which is what free writing is supposed to do, so that’s something. And so, without further ado, I give you, my answer.
Why do I write? I write because I always have, because I watched Cruel Intentions in the ninth grade and thought Sarah Michelle Gellar’s diary was awesome and wanted to be her. I wrote at first because I thought it was cool, because I thought it would make me cool, would make other people think I was cool. Maybe I still write for those reasons. But I write for other reasons.
I write because I have art inside of me, living and breathing and dying to come out of me, and because I don’t have another instrument to play (yet). I write because the thoughts get too crowded up there, when they have to stay inside, and because the page doesn’t talk back to me when I tell it what I really think. I write because I want to make something beautiful, because I know that if I just keep writing, on day I could make something beautiful, be a part of the grander scheme of beauty that goes on in this world. I write because I’m insecure, and because I think it will make someone like me. I write because I’m frustrated, and because words on the page are something I can control. There’s not much else I can control. I write because I don’t have a boss for my words, for what I write.
I write because I feel like I have to, but I have no idea why. I write because people tell me to, because it’s something that I somehow can continue to do, or at least come back to, when most things I try last a little while then die. I write because I’m a little bit schitzo, a little bit crazy in my head sometimes. I write to see what comes out. I write because it’s inside of me, waiting to come out. I write when I’m bored and I’ve banned myself from TV and social media, I write when I want to feel like I’ve done something, when I want to look back on my day and say “hey, look at that! It wasn’t a complete waste.”
I write because I make myself write, because I’ve told myself I would, because I’ve begun to call myself a writer. And then sometimes, in fact originally, I started to write because I wanted to record things, I felt like my life and my thoughts about life needed to be put down on something more permanent than the clouds of memory. I still write for that reason sometimes. I write when I feel smart, when I think I have something to tell someone, or when I feel clever and think I can make someone laugh. I write when things feel deep and important. I write because I want my friends, my family to know things. I write because people expect me to write, and because they don’t. I write because it feels like someone is challenging me to, like it’s some feat I can accomplish, some stamp I can put on my resume of life.
I write to connect with other writers, and to people who like writing. I write because sometimes, I like what comes out on the page. I write because part of me thinks I’m a genius, and the rest of me earnestly desires to be. I write because it helps me think, it makes me think, it multiplies thoughts into more thoughts, it tills fertile ground and readies it for flowers. Beautiful ones, I hope. I write because it makes me feel important.
I mean, when I think about it, why wouldn’t I write? Why wouldn’t anyone write? What a sad life, one that goes completely unrecorded on the inside, unexamined, untilled, like a wrapped present that never gets opened. What’s the point in not writing? Who cares if it’s horrible? It makes me feel connected, real. It ties me to things, to people, to life, the words become a part of me and then, when they are read, a part of the reader too. Now that’s pretty cool. It’s a connector. It’s a divider, too, don’t get me wrong, but even that division begins with a connection. It’s just one more way to connect. I can connect myself, to anyone, to anything really, if I just write about it. And it’s not until I start to write that I will know just how deep and wide that connection will go. Oh what fun to be a writer, to forge connections without need for consent. It’s like a VIP pass to the world, one I was never really supposed to have. I’m an intruder. And honestly, when you think about it, no one can stop me. With great power (real or imagined) comes great responsibility.