In the course of an in-depth discussion on revision techniques, how many readers to have during editing stages, etc., one of my writers’ group friends asked a general question of all of us: Why do you write?
I write to tell a story, to entertain (fiction in general). I write to present and then solve a puzzle, to cause that “Ah-ha!” moment (mysteries). I write to evoke a mood, to share an experience, to vent, to argue a point, to persuade (essays). I write to share things I have learned, to offer fresh insight to age-old problems, to reframe old arguments into new ways of finding common ground (academia). I write to clarify my thoughts, to find my way through the maze of life, to find answers, or at least to better understand the questions (blog, journal, ramblings like this one). I write to celebrate language, the rhythm of words, the nuance of meaning, the exactness of a well-chosen phrase. And, yes, I write in hope of someday finding a publisher who feels my words are worth wider distribution and – ta dah! – payment.
I write because I have no better way to express the churning thoughts which fill my mind. The blank page is my friend when I need to communicate. I don’t speak well; my mind too often goes blank when I’m in conversation, whether it be with one person or a dozen, and I can’t seem to follow my ideas to a logical conclusion. There is no ‘delete’ button when I talk, no find-and-replace for the mischosen word.
During my graduate school program, my faculty advisor, my mentor, and at least one professor have asked me variations of that question: Why do you write? One of them asked, “If you were stranded on a desert island with a stack of blank paper and a pen, knowing full well no one would ever see the results, would you still write?” That brought me up short for sometime; my rote answer to the other unanswerable question in my life, “What will you do with your degree?” has been to make a living with my writing. But as I continue my studies, and my writing, I realize that while earning an income with my words would be wonderful, it is no longer the driving force behind my efforts.
I write because I must. Done properly, mindfully, it is the fulfillment of my nature. I am a writer.