Why do I write?

This was a question from the writer’s retreat I attended in February with Julie Tallard Johnson. The question keeps poking at me, like an insistent child. Obviously, I was meant to answer it … so, I thought I’d share my response. I hope that each of you has something in your life that calls and calls and won’t let you go. As big a pain as it can be at times, I wouldn’t change a thing!

I am called to write by an itch inside me. It seems like I simply can’t NOT write. Writing, in many ways, is how I process life, put it in perspective, find meaning for my days and connect to the world around me. Anais Nin once wrote that “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection.” For me, writing is how I get every last drop of juiciness from my living. One might even say that I live my life a third time when I re-read what I felt prompted to write!

My life has always been this way. I have journals dating back to my teen years, though I am not sure I would want any eyes but my own to see them. Reading them, I can see how I was trying to make sense of the world and people around me. I was still youthful enough to think of myself as the star of my life, rather than one player among the ensemble cast I now feel around me. Everything that happened seemed momentous, which, of course, it was! Whether it was my heart being broken for the first time, the death of a beloved pet, the emotional heights of true love or the heady sense of success when I conquered a class subject, I had no idea how often they might occur and so I marked them with a passion and an intensity that still echoes in my life today.

I read those journals and see the beginnings of the person I am still in the process of becoming. The outline is there. Having written it all out, I can not escape the foolishness or the magnificence of my past. Both perspectives are important to remember. Even reading old poetry or short stories, I note what caught my mind’s eye, what made me want to express “did you see this?” in some way. I still stop and contemplate those same truths, seen from the changed perspective of the years gone by. They still catch me, and I find that life truly is a spiral and we revisit many of the same places along the way. Like the rooms of our youth seen from an adult height, they may indeed look very different, but that changed perspective is another piece of the puzzle of defining the truth of something. One perspective is never enough.

That passion of wanting to share the aha moments in my life is still there, itching under my skin. Even if my words were to never be read by anyone other than me, still I would write. That others may read and find something to help them on their journey, or cause them to think differently about an event in their own lives, is a bonus.

So, I was asked what calls me to write and I find it challenging to put that one thing into words. The calling is both inside and outside myself. It is a bridge between worlds and it is part of my life’s purpose to build it. I must connect A to B. If I don’t, my personal universe will suffer for its lack. I don’t know how else to state it. It is that primal.


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