"Why Do You Write?"
The other day I had to write a little snippet of a bio for a website a few of my pieces are being featured on in May, very exciting, but I struggled with the question: why do you write? That is an excellent question, to which the voice inside my head answered something along the lines of: I don’t write. Not really. What could I possibly ever say that would be worth reading to these complete strangers?
I used to think that authors and poets and writers of all kinds wrote simply because they enjoyed it. And maybe it starts out that way. But it’s so much more than that, isn't it? Writing is not the glamorous profession I always so naively thought it was. I used to envision writers setting up their laptops or moleskins in quaint little coffee shops or libraries, typing away a happy little story while some smooth jazz played overhead. Only recently do I understand how infuriating and consuming it can be.
Now, I've always written—I have the closet full of journals from the last fifteen years to prove it. And I've always known that I could write (by that I mean I know how to put together a sentence and which punctuation should follow when). I even have the journalism degree that can attest to that one. But there’s a difference between writing something straightforwardly with little or no emotion, and writing something from your soul that you actually believe in and think is worth reading. It’s the latter I've never considered pushing myself to do, at least not publicly. I have some real gems from the tenth grade that are full of “emotion.” Amateur hour back then.
And then I started this blog, and I honestly don’t even really know why. I think the original intent was to just sort of catalogue and keep track of my life in New York, I’m not sure. I do know that I never meant to be as honest as I’m starting to find myself being. This is uncharted territory for me and I’m not sure if I’m completely comfortable with it. But a good friend hit it on the head the other day. She told me that "good writers don't write being afraid of what some people will think; they write what's true. They know that there's a group of people that will love it and relate to it. Good writers are the ones out there who are brave enough to say what everyone else hasn't been able to."
While I love honesty and vulnerability in other people, I've always had a hard time living by that same creed myself, especially when it comes to things I write. I’m usually too concerned with what other people may think, or how what I say or do will affect them. Yet lately…there’s something there, something inside desperately trying to claw its way out, a fire burning deep, a hamster wheel constantly rotating in my mind. Seriously, it will not quit lately. I feel like I opened some kind of floodgate and now words just keep floating around in my head, rearranging themselves seventeen different ways until one sentence finally sticks.
Yet, I still hesitate to call myself a writer—mostly because that's not how I earn a living, it will never be how I earn a living. But also because I've encountered some amazingly great writers in my life and to compare myself, even just by having that same title, would be the greatest form of disrespect to them in my mind. Plus, everyone in New York is a writer. Everyone in New York seems to be a reader also, so that gives me a little more justification in my mind to keep going. But to call myself a writer in New York is to come face to face with that daunting label of "little fish...huge pond." Everyone here is a young lost soul struggling with the same internal questions and trying to find the answers through writing, music, painting, sculpting, acting, etc. We’re all trying to make sense of this world through a story, an essay, a poem.
I never expected anyone to read any of this nonsense to be honest with you. But as it turns out, people actually do. People I haven’t spoken to or seen in years have told me that they look forward to reading my new posts. I've had friends who haven’t picked up a book in a decade tell me that something I've written captured their attention and they found themselves wanting more. Literary journals and blogs have actually started to respond to me and voice their interests. I guess I just never thought anything I wrote/thought would be so universal and have the ability to move people to tears. Count’s up to three for that one. And I think that’s the reason why I write: that universal human connection. Everybody’s got a hungry heart…
I didn't mean to ramble on for so long here. I just wanted to say that I think I’m going to keep pushing this; I’m going to ride this one out for a while. You've been warned.