I originally drafted this essay a few years ago, and looking back at it now, I’m surprised by how much the reasons why I write have changed, and so I’d like to read part of the original essay, then take a look at how I’d answer the question why I write today.
So this is what I wrote the first time:
I’m someone who writes because I have to, because I can’t imagine not writing. The satisfaction I get from writing is one I find nowhere else. There are many common reasons for writing—the need for expression, for attention, for distraction, the desire to entertain ourselves and others. The keyword here is ‘need.’ We write because we need to. I write to convince myself that my time is not wasted, that I am creating something which, just maybe, will jettison off into the world and spark change.
At its core, I write because I sometimes feel there’s little I can do to change the world. Within my own worlds, however, pleasures are sustainable, uprisings are successful, the evil corporate tycoon gets his come-uppance. The bad guy loses. Or does he? If I’m writing about a world that reflects our own, happy endings may be hard to come by. But writing allows me to taunt reality, to turn the dial up to 11 in an attempt to demonstrate the absurdity of our own world. I write both to escape, and to condemn.
So that’s an excerpt from the initial essay. When I was asked to read this here, I revisited the topic, and realized my motivations today are a little different:
I write because the world is full of things unseen, and by putting them on the page, they become visible. The idea becomes form, the illusion becomes reality, the dream is realized. Yes, I also still write as a way to process pain, but I also write to process joy. I write because I want to connect, because I want to share something with many someones and have them share with me, because I know that when I read something that resonates with me, I feel connected, I realize I’m not alone. These days I write with a sense of ease, with a confidence that no, my time is not wasted, nothing is wasted when you are creating and connecting. Though writing so often feels like an isolated process, it has also connected me to so many people. Many of my dearest friends are writers, and our mutual support of one another is reason enough to do this. The writing community I am privileged to be a part of, that extends across the country, beyond the page, beyond the limits of our bodies, answers the question “why.” For the goal is not to escape into lonely worlds where you are the sole occupant, it’s to build a home limited by nothing where all can thrive, and to invite anyone and everyone to stay as long as they want.