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Why I Write

Written By: Jessica Morrell - Apr• 24•13

Although I’ve written since childhood, it took me years to settle into the writing life of passionate interplay with words and ideas.
I write because I find myself in writing. Writing helps me think clearer, teases me with questions, helps me figure out my life and my whirling thoughts once I type them onto a screen or scribble them in a notebook. I write because I cannot not write. I feel guilty when I don’t write, adrift when I’m not working on a book or long project, or am not excited about a fresh idea.

I write because I figure the worst that can happen is that someday I’ll read from a work in a public place and people will start booing or throwing things at me. Since that has never happened, I guess I can go on with the task that has always been a part of me. Wait a minute, I just realized that the worst that can happen is that I can be rejected—been there. Didn’t feel good; but the sting of rejection fades and you wake up to discover you’re still writing.

Writing is my refuge and solace. It makes me feel less alone in this large, rattling world and brings forth the ancient lullabies I harbor within. While writing is demanding, it’s also fun, engaging, and engrossing. And it can be undertaken in at all hours, in the loneliest hours before dawn, or after midnight. In a bathrobe, sipping tea, staring out the window, looking inward.

I write because you can never really fail when you write—you can only experiment, dabble, try; or buckle down or float away on the good days. It forces me to take risks that sometimes I’d rather avoid. It nudges the cowardly parts into the light, forces me to the computer, sometimes joints creaking, neck sore, heart not in the task at hand. But as Erica Jong said, “If you don’t risk anything, you lose even more.” So I write to awaken the bold person inside of me. I write because even on my palest days if I sit here long enough I can usually find the vibrant colors and images stored as in an unused paint box.

I write to add to the common discourse, to make the world a richer place, to make people laugh, to explain what is hard to understand. I write to help people. I write because I can explore life’s uncertainties and undertow. Writing helps me discover the emotional truth of my experiences and losses. Hemingway said, “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” And so I do. Because I can sometimes  rewrite who I’ve been; wrap hurt in a closet of disguises, perhaps imagining a girl tripping into puberty, bucking with confidence, not stumbling with not enoughs and doubt.

I write to conjure up the lost geography of childhood. Because I can travel in the dream machine of memory and sometimes this turns into a letter to my hometown. I write because the ritual of writing is nourishing and calming. Because writing helps me chase my thoughts when they seem to flee like a dog scampering away from its owner, rollicking over a vast beach.
I write because writing trains my eye and I love to notice the smallest things around me, the moment when the wind shifts, when the clouds are shaped into a vast mystery, a storm front is rolling in, or the leaves start changing hue. I write because poetry, sweet and sure and clear, runs through everything and transforms each thing in the process.

I write because writing forces me to constantly pump up my writing vocabulary and reminds me to use words with oomph and pizzazz and makes me fall in love with the sound of language again and again and again. My newest acquisitions: besmirch, flinchy, doxies, facile, phlegmatic, tinhorn, bailiwick, panjandrum, skulk, elfin, waylay, clobber, ascribe, wan, soulless, hara-kiri, snooker, surrus, harbinger, humdrum, thrumming, canoodle, buttress, tinhorn, tootle, sludgy, tender-pawed, stanky, trifecta, infidel, wobbly, dowdy, buffoon, ass-hattery, rhapsodize, unspooling, shunted, woozy, king slayer, tut, diddling, splutter, deadeye, agog, addled, rube, denizen, nadir, killjoy, whack, wraithish, witter, betook, logrolling, mammoth, prissy, avatar, filigree, ascribe, porn boobs, rapacious, depredation.

I write because it affirms the joyful parts of my life. Because I have long since discovered that I don’t need to only write from a place of pain or loss or rawness as if tapping again and again from an empty heart. That the whispering wonders of daily life, or a need to touch another writer are enough inspiration to start the process. I write because it makes me feel happy and alive, as in buzzing, blood-moving-fast-god-I-feel-energized-alive. But mostly because writing gives my life purpose, meaning and passion. Why do you write?

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4 Comments

  1. The great thing about being a writer is that every setback life throws at you is fuel for your work. Added stress, tension, depression, anger, whatever are feeling can help your writing in several ways.

  2. We write because we are reacting to someone or something. While writing can feel like an isolating, individual act—just you and the computer or pad of paper—it is really a social act, a way in which we respond to the people and world around us. Writing happens in specific, often prescribed contexts. We are not just writing—we are always writing to an audience(s) for some particular purpose. When we write, we do so because we want, need, or have been required to create a fixed space for someone to receive and react to our ideas. Understanding this social or rhetorical context—who our readers may be, why they want to read our ideas, when and where they will be reading, how they might view us as writers—governs some of the choices we make. The writing context requires writers to have a sense of the reader’s expectations and an awareness of conventions for a particular piece of writing. The context of the piece further determines the appropriate tone, level of vocabulary, kind and placement of evidence, genre, and sometimes even punctuation.

  3. Writing gives me such enormous pleasure, and I’m a much happier (and therefore nicer) person when I’m doing it. There’s a place in my head that I go to when I write and it’s so rich and unexpected – and scary sometimes – but never ever dull. I first went there when I was seven and I wrote a poem which startled me a bit because it felt like someone else had written it. The adrenaline rush that gave me was incredible and I wanted more. These days, maybe because I can now access that place quite easily, writing feels like something I simply could not live without. It is a joyous thing. I feel very lucky to be paid to do it, but even if I’d never been published, I think I’d still be writing. I love being read, but the person I’m really always writing for is me.

  4. Erna Sosa says:

    We write because we are reacting to someone or something. While writing can feel like an isolating, individual act—just you and the computer or pad of paper—it is really a social act, a way in which we respond to the people and world around us. Writing happens in specific, often prescribed contexts. We are not just writing—we are always writing to an audience(s) for some particular purpose. When we write, we do so because we want, need, or have been required to create a fixed space for someone to receive and react to our ideas. Understanding this social or rhetorical context—who our readers may be, why they want to read our ideas, when and where they will be reading, how they might view us as writers—governs some of the choices we make. The writing context requires writers to have a sense of the reader’s expectations and an awareness of conventions for a particular piece of writing. The context of the piece further determines the appropriate tone, level of vocabulary, kind and placement of evidence, genre, and sometimes even punctuation.