February

— Lisa Torem

I write because I’m fearful of roller coasters, serpents, catsup left out in the heat during the playoffs, and running into my gynecologist on a Ferris wheel. I write because I can face all of my innermost fears in this very safe zone AKA the page. I write because it forces me to be precise; to be mindful in a world in which the senses can blur at such a sickening pace that I must retreat, and writing is my sacred asylum.

I write because it makes me feel whole and ancient and anachronistic in a charming way; it makes me feel like a cranky Victrola or a player piano, two one-off machines that, when operated or played with care and conviction, make exquisite music. Writing makes me feel rooted in the past, but it also makes me so curious about the future.

I write to put all my ducks in a row, to organize my swirling dreams, cold-sweat nightmares and regrets. I write out of respect for those that came before me and even if Tolstoy and Hemmingway depicted the human experience more authentically, I still feel fulfilled just by being a contender, utilizing the same alphabet that they utilized, piggy backing on their ironies to stimulate my own brand of curiosity.

I write because, who else can uniquely tell my story? Who else can possibly appreciate my trials? And acknowledging my uniqueness makes me feel beautiful and self-possessed.

I write because the very act keeps me from consuming empty calories or engaging in superficial chitchat just to hear my own voice. I write because getting my thoughts on the page makes me feel light-hearted, light-headed and validated. I write to become my own confidante; to experience a simple trust that outsiders may misinterpret.

I write because I want to belong and feel useful and using words in my own way makes me feel capable and clever and, on a good day, even fascinating. I write because I enjoy chuckling quietly under my breath at a joke that takes me back to a bright or even dark episode that happened when I couldn’t write. I write because it somehow helps me find my way back, as opposed to when I am on the outside, overwhelmed by the traffic, congestion and heartlessness of strangers.

I write because I am a control freak and for that reason, word counts, punctuation and grammar act as my chemistry beaker, a Petri dish of experimentation. I write because it allows me to cuss like a foul-smelling pirate or use crisp British English in place of my midwestern twang.

I write so that I get to choose the narrator as well as the main and secondary characters. I get to design costumes even though I cannot operate a sewing machine in real life. I get to rewrite history or explain what I believe truly happened with passion.

Why do I write? Because despite our posturing, we need internal validation.

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