He Asked Me Why I Write

About a week ago, I sat in a chair in a cramped, stuffy classroom and got asked the doomed question: Why do you write? I sat there and quietly pondered the question — I took the rest of the week to do the same.

So why do I do this thing, this act, called writing? There’s no simple answer. I could use all of the flowery language I could imagine to describe the act and feeling of writing and it would satisfy the question for a while, but never quite answer it. So, why do I write? Well, first of all, as much as I love writing, I don’t always choose to do it. It is a part of me as much as the nebulizer I use for my asthma. They both make me breathe easier and get through each day. I don’t feel like sitting in one spot for thirty minutes with a mask on my face and a loud machine next to me, but it doesn’t mean I can’t do it. Just as sometimes I don’t feel like sitting in one spot for thirty minutes desperately scribbling on a page while my hand cramps up and my head keeps yapping, but I must.

Writing is how I give things life, how I remember, and how I deal with everything. As sad as it sounds, my notebooks are like my best friends, I don’t feel complete until I’ve carefully recorded thoughts, feelings, or events within them. If I am upset, crying helps, but not for long. I’ve been utterly heartbroken trying to piece myself together on a drenched page, ink everywhere, and yet when I absolutely could not surface another word, the crying stopped and little by little I felt better, and lighter. I do it because it is personal and the things that I find impossible to say aloud, flow out of me onto pages, without a try. It’s a happening, an event almost, and half the time I don’t even know what I’m trying to say until I’ve read what I’ve written.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to be remembered for my writing and I want to make people feel something again, but I write for myself, to keep my head above water, to keep me breathing. I write to learn myself and remember myself at all points of life. I write because it is who I am and who I want to be all portrayed in the landscape of a blank page anticipating its wonderful mess.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
-Flannery O’Connor

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