A question was posed by a fellow blogger: Why do we write? On the face of it, it seems like a simple enough question with an easier answer. Looks can be deceiving.
My immediate response was an Alice James quote: “ I think if I get into the habit of writing a bit about what happens, or rather what doesn’t happen, I may lose a little of the sense of loneliness and desolation which abides in me.” At the time, I truly felt that it summed up why I write and what writing does for me in a simple, honest way.
Then I went to bed. And, as often happens, my brain refused to settle into sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about writing and why I need to write. As I lay there in the dark I realized there is no simple answer to the question. There just isn’t.
I write to fill a hole deep within me – a word-hungry hole starving for verbs, nouns, adjectives and pronouns. It churns within me demanding to be fed. I stuff it constantly with simple phrases, paragraphs, commas, exclamation points and run on sentences but it’s never satisfied. I seek out new vocabulary for added flavor, marveling at the depth how a turn of phrase can reconstitute an entire work of prose. I pepper its meals with poetry, essay, and short stories of my own, even reading to it the works of writers I admire. Still it remains ravenous, digging deeper within me.
I write because I know – I am convinced – there resides within me something crying to be set free, to be born of the written word. Created in the muscle of memory and imagination, it holds joy and pain tightly in its curled fist. I feel it breathe and stretch within my soul, energized by the emotions evoked in the sights, smells, and sensations of life. Words are its nutrition and expression its lifeblood. I, alone, have a responsibility for its care, its feeding, its growth. I am its sole provider. I often fail in my responsibility.
I write because, as the quote, there does abide within me a sense of loneliness and desolation. A need to be heard and seen and understood. A need to know I am not alone in my fears, my joys, my questioning and celebrating of life, both the minutia and the grandiose. I write because there is a need – unnamed and untapped – I have yet to fulfill.
And so it is that after all my reflection and introspection, I see now the truth of why I write is this: I simply must.
I simply must.