Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking about why I write. Do I like to write? Does it make me happy? Does it allow me to interact with others? Does it help me to understand myself? What does it do for me as a person? What does it do for my relationship with the broader world? And how can I use my writing to shape the broader world?
More than anything, I believe that I write because I need to. I have to write. There are things inside of me that must come out. I experience the world through narrative. I have a near-constant narrative running in my head. I love stories. I love to hear stories and read stories and tell stories. I enjoy fiction; I enjoy nonfiction. I delight in narrative. I have stories inside of me, and I feel a need to tell them.
This can mean writing them on paper or typing them. I may destroy them after I do that. I may need to tell someone a story. (Most of the stories that I tell others are true. Occasionally, I create stories for little kids.) I’ve used the internet to share a few of my stories with others. But regardless of what I do with these stories, they run through my head. Sometimes, a line will pop unbidden into my head, and I have to write it down. Recently, I was sitting and working when the line “My parents didn’t raise me to be a failure. No, I became one on my own despite the best efforts of those around me.” just came into my mind. I don’t know what I’m going to do with that; it sounds like it could be the beginning of something. It feels promising me to me. I don’t know who the “I” is yet or why he/she is a failure.
But I do know that I have words coursing through me. I have stories that I think must be told. I come up with ideas that become my blog posts-these ideas that MUST get out of me. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said (emphasis mine) that you don’t write because you WANT to say something; you write because you have something to say. Oftentimes, I find that I feel that I have to write. Take this blog post. I was sitting on the couch reading a book when ideas started following and I felt like I had to let them out of me. It’s an experience that I can’t easily explain to others. I get ideas, and I have to let them out. I check my grammar and spelling later.
Writing is important to me because it allows me to express myself. My thoughts may not be worth much to others, but they matter to me. They may not pay for my daily bread, but they get convoluted if I don’t let them out of my head. I write to clear my mind and to organize my thoughts. I write to explore the world. I write because it helps me to experience the world. I don’t know how my writing impacts others-or even if it does. But I know that my writing helps me.