Monday, March 15, 2010

Why I Write

I've been thinking a lot about writing lately. The reasons are obvious enough- I recently started a blog, our theatre company hosted a literary reading on Saturday, and "Freedom Writers" was just on tv. While my interest in  writing has been renewed over the past week or so, I've always written. I used to make up stories and keep journals. I even won the Young Authors Competition in my town twice. (Interestingly enough, it was in historical fiction both times- a genre that could not interest me less now.) And until high school, "a writer" was always my answer to the "what do you want to be when you grow up" question. 

But even given my lifelong relationship with writing, I have difficulty calling myself a writer. I am a musician. I am a teacher. I am a wife, and a Mommy. And I have facts to back up my use of these titles. Degrees, and resumes and legal documents. I don't have this kind evidence stating I'm a writer, so I struggle with the title.

Two years ago I was sitting in a Starbuck with a red pen and a hundred or so pages of my memoir. A man sitting near me asked me, "Are you a writer?"

"No," I answered. "I'm a music teacher."

"Did you write that?" he asked, pointing to the stack of pages on the table.

"Well, yes-"

"Then you're a writer," he said plainly.

I'm not sure why this stranger felt it was his responsibility to help me define my identity. I'm also not sure why strangers have personal conversations with me everywhere I go, but that's another blog for another day. And further, I'm not sure why his argument- that I'm a writer because I write- is enough for me. 

But the fact remains. I write. And sometimes people read. And now I write a blog every weekday. So today, as an exercise inspired by the essay "Why I write" (Jackie, who wrote this essay?) I present to you my "Why I write" exercise. 

I write because sometimes I have words for things that other people don't have.

I write because I can't afford therapy anymore.

I write because my daughter doesn't happen to need her diaper changed right now.

I write in hopes that people might understand me and the silly things I do sometimes.

I write because I know I can't be the only one who's been through this.

I write because the more I do it, the more I need to do it.

I write because it's something I can control, with a result I can understand.

I write because it sometimes comes easily to me, and other times it is the most difficult thing I could possibly do.

I write to laugh at myself, and to allow others to laugh with me.

I write because I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to.

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