Saturday, November 06, 2010
Why Do We Write?
This is a question I ask myself almost daily, because I genuinely want to know why I am compelled to write, even if I don't know what I am going to write about that day. The magical poetry sprites whisper in my ear that they have a message for the world, and that I am their trusted scribe. No - not really. It does feel at times as though something larger than myself is at work though. I think all artists and creative minds work this way. There is so much energy swirling around in the universe. We are meant to reach out and grab it - to share it. I once watched a "TED Talks" podcast where the presenter spoke of a poet whose technique was to pull in a new poem from the ethers, as if pulling in a kite from the sky. If she didn't run home right away and capture the poem, it would be lost to her - dancing across the sky until finding another poet to write down the words.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "We read to know we are not alone." I believe that we write to know we are not alone as well. Connecting with the consciousness of others gives us the comfort of knowing that we are all having an earthly experience together. We are all feeling pain, loss and suffering - alongside love, joy and fulfillment. If someone else writes about the joys and challenges of parenthood - the same, exhausting months of sleep deprivation as well as the heart warming moments of first giggles and first steps, then we know that there is hope for tomorrow and the day after that.
Nothing is more frightening than an empty page and not knowing how to fill it. If we clear the mind of what we think is the sublime poem or the ultimate narrative, then we might just stumble upon the engaging story that everyone can relate to, so that none of us will ever feel alone.
Why do we write? I write because there isn't a single day that goes by when I don't feel my hands reach out for the keyboard with passion. I write because I would be quite miserable if I did not throw the contents of my brain into a Word document at least once per day. I write because everyone else in my household would be miserable too, if I did not write. It calms me the way classical music soothes the baby that will not go to sleep. Writing allows the restless part of me to find peace. Once in a while, when I write a really good poem, someone tells me that it made a difference in their day to read it, and this makes me feel like I've given something back to this sweet, sweet world.