Sometimes people ask me why I write.
I can never think of very clever, poetic, or sense-making answers to this question. I write because I just do.
However, ever since I read this post yesterday I have been trying to come up with a better answer to that specific question. Unlike the amazing Esther (who I met at the Faith Builders Retreat in July) I don’t write because I’m a poet, or because words are funny, or because I can’t speak. In fact, I love public speaking. I write because, let’s see…
I first began to write because there were so many stories inside me.
For instance. When I was a kid, there was a small quilt hanging at the foot of my bed. I used to attribute personalities to the different quilt squares and imagine stories about how they would interact with each other. I made up stories with my dolls, and toys, of course, and when I was six I started putting myself to sleep by telling myself stories in my head.
Eventually, I decided that I HAD to learn to write these stories down. It was terribly hard. I kept beginning stories, but never ending them.
I first began to write non-fiction because I wanted to remember.
It was around the age of twelve that I began collecting notebooks and filling them with songs, diary entries, and random thoughts and quotes. I also wrote down a bunch of my dreams. I was fascinated with myself, and didn’t want to forget any of the interesting things about my life or my feelings.
I continued to write over the years because word manipulation comes easily to me.
I am often envious of musical people, because the music just comes to them, and they can sit down and play something that sounds nice without much effort at all.
I envy artistic people, because they can simply sit down and draw something, and it looks beautiful.
I am not a musical person or an artistic person. If I want to play music or draw a picture I have to put in a ton of work but get very poor results.
I am, however, a word person. I have no trouble spouting out a clever zinger when someone insults me. It’s a breeze to write a 300 word essay on the way middle class woman’s roles changed during the industrial revolution.
I love music and art more than they love me, so they have control of me, making me work hard for the smallest results. Words, however, love me more than I love them, and so I have the power, manipulating them to do whatever I want them to do.
I write because “writer” is part of my identity.
For many years I had no idea if I was a good writer or not. Some people liked my blog. My writing teacher liked the stories I wrote. But for all I knew, people could be reading my blog because they were simply interested in my life, and my writing teacher might have low standards.
When I got my book deal, that changed so many things. It meant that people high up in the publishing world saw me as a good writer. It meant that I was now a REAL writer, with a published book to back it up.
As great as that sounds, as great as it was, it changed my thought process about writing. I used to think, “maybe I’ll write a book someday. It probably won’t get published, but it’s fun to dream.”
Now I thought, “I should write a book, because I could publish it.”
In many ways I am still stuck in my old “happy little writer” mentality. I write what I want to write, even if I am simply recording the funny arguments at the church members meeting, which I’ll never be able to publish without offending/disrespecting anyone. I haven’t written another book because of all the boring work involved in writing something that long, doing the proper research, and editing it to pieces.
Even so, a big part of the reason I write so much is because I know I can. There is a certain pressure added to being a “real writer.” People expect you to write.
And even more importantly, I expect myself to write.