Why I Write

The day before yesterday I took the 10 Days to a Better Blog! challenge from bloging juggernaut Jonh Saddington. If you haven’t gotten to read any of his blog, check it out. He spoke to our Iron Yard class twice in the last few months and each time he spoke there was always something inspiring and challenging.

Today’s challenge is to start thinking about why I write and sharing that with you. I actually love to write and probably have a thousand reasons why, but I’ll try to codify those into larger ideas so nobody gets too bogged down (especially me, haha).

I write first of all because I was read to as a child. My mom read to me and made sure when I could I would read to her as well. I think my love of the written word in any form comes from her, and indeed for me the feeling of love itself often takes the form of written notes.Before movies or special effects, you could read – or someone could read to you – words that another person at another time in another location wrote down, and in your mind you could picture what was being described and be filled with immense emotions.

Writing is powerful. Ideas written down have sparked revolutions and even changed the world. And this power is at your fingertips. Literally at your fingertips and in your hands. With nothing other than some clicks on a keyboard or strokes of a pen on paper, you can create the next Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence or Harry Potter.

And there’s something different between hearing someone speak, their words can rouse you, but when you read something it becomes part of you, that idea is now yours. Obviously, I’m skirting around the difference between auditory vs. tactile vs. visual learners, but for me, there is nothing like holding a book in your hands and reading something that truly changes the way you think about the world. Grab the pen and underlining that sentence, re-reading every syllable so closely as you imprint this new idea onto your brain and in you skin.

Writing also leads to narrative, and there is certainly little on the earth as affecting as a great story. There are so many different ways to tell a story, by the campfire, with puppets, with ninety minutes of gratuitous action in a 16:9 ratio. But I was brought up to love books. To love lying in bed and holding a book in the air until you’re so tired it smacks you in the face and to mark your progress as you push forward into this wonderful landscape residing simultaneously in your hands and your imagination.

So why do I write? To give back, maybe? Writing me is the best way to get my attention, so maybe it’s my default setting for expression in the world. Maybe it’s my love language? I write because something compels me to. I write because other than times of pretty crazy depression, writing has been my most constant practice and companion.

I guess for someone writing, one would assume this would make a little more sense, but it’s kind of like asking me to explain why God made the sky blue. Not scientifically why the sky is blue, but why would someone choose it to be one color over any of the others? I’m not trying to make a theological point or push any view on to you, my reader, I’m just trying to paint a picture (with words, no less!) to describe how I feel about writing.

For me it just “is”. When I feel most like myself, I write constantly. When I feel like I don’t belong in my own skin or that somehow hope is nonexistent, I don’t write. So when I want to feel like myself, I write, and then I feel like myself. The reasoning is circular and vaguely illogical, but it’s like me trying to explain why a being who created an entire universe would make the default color palatte of the atmosphere blue(ish).

I’m sure I’ll revisit this concept (noooooo! screamed his readers), but here it is, in jumbled puzzle-piece form. Why I write.