J.A. Waters

An engine runs because it must. That is its purpose. The pistons extend and pressure the fuel and drive combustion to its fiery end. A burst of light and sound contained within steel alloy rattles brackets and provides momentum to turn the wheels. And so, forward. Go for a drive. 

The need is constant and all-encompassing and overwhelming. A buzzing mosquito tickling the eardrum with moth-sized wings. “Create,” it chants. “Create,” it demands. Create again and again and again. Fill the world with new and more and different. Find something that becomes a purpose and staves off listless uncertainty. Force reasons to exist.

An end result is too small. Too narrow. There isn’t a sought out prize or an expected sum. Hopefully existence won’t result in an easy summary of accurate cliché. Hopefully existence will be like life: Complex and difficult to coin in a phrase. Hopefully there won’t be an end so much as a pausing breath taken to introduce the next speaker. Hello. Welcome to the continued.

That is the why. To build and construct and piece together. A reward built from the toil into something unconsumable. To be tasted but never devoured. To be impossible to deconstruct. Another cornerstone on top of the cornerstones on top of the cornerstones of before. Being remembered isn’t expected, but being a part of the whole is required. But how can we be a part without taking part?

So we forge our own tools to take part. Tools forged from nothingness and abstraction. Insubstantial fluff carefully gathered into recesses of the mind. Neurons herded together in hope that they’ll accidentally bump together and scatter about as if dumped into pachinko machines. Feed the machine with fever-hot hands shoving scalding quarters for another round of chain reaction. Provide an endless rain to provoke “Ah hah!” Avoid the idle wait for inspiration by smashing atoms together and riding the mushroom cloud.

And eventually? After the ideas converge and collide and entangle? Some emerge stumbling and misshapen but victorious. They have been codified from the blood of ideas discarded due to furious disinterest. They are keen edges condensed into heady fuel.

With enough concentration, with enough effort and habitual failure, writing becomes an extension of will. It is more coherent than the thoughts ricocheting together to form a next step or a toothy smile. It is a release of divinity in a pen. And then the whispered demand, “Create,” can be mollified. If only for a moment.

That is a why but not “The” why because there is no one ideal reason. Instead, there are millions driven by the greatest need to exist and to be more than a floating mote without willful direction. There is surely something to be said of experiencing a moment without thought. There is peace in accepting moments without even altering thoughts. But there is an intense satisfaction in creating moments and wrapping them in a cocoon of words that will allow that moment to be shared and expanded.