Why do I write?
I read a quote some time ago that has stuck somewhere in my mind or heart, or perhaps both. It went something like this: “The act of writing is the act of discovering what you believe.”
So much has been said of writing. Probably even more has been written about writing.
I love to read it all … books about writing almost as much as books written so well that the concept of writing is forgotten within the mystery and magic of the story itself.
But why do I write? To discover what I believe?
In some ways, my worldview remains what it has been since I was a child …
But at the same time, my thoughts and perceptions and understanding transform with each thing I read.
Somehow, for a moment – or maybe forever – I take on the views and pains and joys of the author or blogger or writer, and my heart is changed perhaps more than I know.
Maybe that is one reason I write: to process, catharsis-like, my emotions, thoughts, reactions.
To try to understand the unexpected tears that rise when I read certain stories. Or to put a name on the place deep down from whence those tears came.
But that’s not all of it.
I write because I love to write.
Is that circular logic? I write because I love to write … and that is why I write.
But it’s true. I do.
Words, Writing, and Untold Stories
I love that idea … of the “swirl and swing” of words and writing.
Words really are beautiful – and amazing – the way they can be strung a million different ways, woven together uniquely a million different times.
And each time the story, the picture, the painting-in-the-mind-and-heart is different.
And the stories …
I see them everywhere … a hint of them, at least.
I watched a movie last week that showed scenes of the Berlin Wall being constructed, brick by brick. And I saw stories. I felt the stories, and wanted to know more about them.
Crazy, perhaps … wanting to know every last story. The torn families, the broken love, the healing and the hope.
Some part of me wanted to write those stories, for the sake of the people who lived them and died in the midst of them, or who survived but for some reason were unable to tell their tale.
Tell of the love and the grief, the passion and the being swept away.
I wished I could write those stories so that in spite of everything so many forgotten people have gone through – or perhaps because of it – their stories can have a happy ending.
Or at least a moment of beauty in the midst of the madness.
Traces of beauty underlie so many things, like a river rippling so deep beneath the foundations of the earth that everything heard and seen and witnessed and experienced is touched by it.
By the magic and the mystery of that overarching Story.
Perhaps I also write to recognize the traces of Story in life.
Comedy. Tragedy. Ultimately, the sweetest of fairy tales.
Ebbing and flowing, swirling and swinging, eddying about the edges of every life.
Why do I write?
How could I not? When stories, poems, thoughts beg to be written … urge from every side.
So I set pen to paper and begin … or continue what has already begun.
Am I satisfied with what I write?
Rarely on the first draft. Sometimes less so with the fifth draft.
But still, every first draft or eighth draft has its purpose. Every word or sentence or conclusion or insight serves as another step toward understanding.
In some moments of emotional turmoil or heartache, the writing becomes a form of catharsis.
Writing to Make a Connection
And in the midst of that process, my hope is that the words or stories will one day evoke a sense of joy and recognition in the heart of the reader.
Perhaps that is the central purpose.
That is why I write, and why I find such joy in doing so.
It is not just my way to express myself, my ideas, my individuality.
If that were the reason, I would be compelled to set aside my pen and paper.
That cannot be it.
That cannot be why I feel not only a joy in writing, but almost a joyous compulsion to do so. As if something would be lost if I did not write.
What would be lost?
The ideas themselves?
I cannot take credit for all the stories and ideas that arise from somewhere within me.
While I know I must build, develop, and expound – create – I recognize that I do not create ex nihilo.
Out of nothing.
I gather from the works of others, mentors and strangers and friends who have paved the literary path before me, whose writings have brought me joy and transformed me in some way or many ways.
I also gather from the mulch of this life I live: picking up fragments from dreams, from conversations, from books and films.
And I gather from my heart: from memories and heartbreak, from hopes I treasure and beliefs I hold.
Writing is a crazy thing.
The call to write, even more so.
Yet there are few things more wonderful than writing a story or post and having a reader, a friend, come up to you and say, “What you wrote is what I’ve always felt,” or, “That story made me cry” … or laugh, or decide to dream again.
Writing is more than self-expression.
It’s making the heart, the soul, available at the turning of a page in the hope that someone will find within the words and the stories a reflection of their own soul.
Maybe so that, somewhere rippling within that reflection, they will find the courage to reach into the mulch of those questions and fears, hopes and dreams, longings and wishes …
And create a beautiful story out of the fragments, the stuff, of life.
Why do you write?