Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why I Write


Have you ever contemplated why you write?  I've mentioned before that I've pondered this very thing.
American naturalist author Terry Tempest Williams wrote an essay in 2001 about why she writes in Northern Lights Magazine of her thoughts on why she writes (see below).  When I came across this "manifesto" it resonated with me. The last line particularly caught my attention, "I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love." What a lovely thought - whispering into the ear of the One I Iove -  with my writing.   I pray that my writing will be an sweet offering to the One, my First Love, the Author and Finisher of my faith.

Why I Write by Terry Tempest Williams
"I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create red in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover. I write to meet my ghosts. I write to begin dialogue. I write to imagine things differently and in imagining things differently perhaps the world will change. I write to honor beauty. I write to correspond with my friends. I write as a daily act of improvisation. I write because it creates my composure. I write against power and for democracy. I write in a solitude born out of community. I write to the questions that shatter my sleep. I write to the answers that keep me complacent.

I write to remember. I write to forget. I write to the music that opens my heart. I write to quell the pain. I write to migrating birds with the hubris of language. I write to a form of translation. I write with the patience of melancholy in winter. I write because it allows me to confront that which I do not know. I write as an act of faith. I write as an act of slowness. I write to record what I love in the face of loss. I write because it makes me less fearful of death. I write as an exercise in pure joy. I write as one who walks on the surface of a frozen river beginning to melt. I write out of my anger and into my passion. I write from the stillness of night anticipating–always anticipating.

I write to listen. I write out of silence. I write to soothe the voices shouting inside me, outside me, all around. I write because of the humor of our condition as humans. I write because I believe in words. I write because it is a dance with paradox. I write because you can play on the page like a child left alone in the sand. I write because it belongs to the force of the moon: high tide, low tide. I write because it is the way I take long walks. I write as a bow to wilderness. I write because I believe it can create a path in darkness. I write because as a child I spoke a different language. I write with a knife carving each word through the generosity of trees.

I write as ritual. I write because I am not employable. I write out of my inconsistencies. I write because then I do not have to speak. I write with the colors of memory. I write as a witness to what I have seen. I write as a witness to what I imagine. I write by grace and grit. I write out of indigestion. I write because I am starving. I write because I am full. I write to the dead. I write out of the body. I write to put food on the table. I write to the other side of procrastination. I write for the children we never had. I write for the love of ideas. I write for the surprise of a beautiful sentence. I write with the belief of alchemists. I write knowing I will always fail. I write knowing words always fall short. I write knowing I can be killed by my own words, stabbed by syntax, crucified by both understanding and misunderstanding. I write out of ignorance. I write by accident. I write past the embarrassment of exposure.

I keep writing and suddenly, I am overcome by the sheer indulgence, the madness, the meaninglessness, the ridiculousness of this list. I trust nothing, especially myself, and slide headfirst into the familiar abyss of doubt and humiliation and threaten to push the delete button on my way down, or madly erase each line, pick up the paper and rip it to shreds–and then I realize, it doesn’t matter, words are always a gamble, words are the splinters of cut glass. I write because it is dangerous, a bloody risk, like love, to form the words, to say the words, to touch the source, to be touched, to reveal how vulnerable we are, how transient we are.
I write as though I am whispering in the ear of the one I love."





Why do you write?

18 comments :

  1. Ooooo, I love this post! That quote about whispering into the ear of the one I love...it gives me chills. :) Why do I write? Hhhmm. I'm new to the journey, though it has been a dream for many, many years. I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to spin stories that could transport others into another realm, to allow an escape and bring joy in the process. Your reasons sound more glamorous, exciting, and thought provoking...:)

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  2. It's a wonderful journey, Sherrinda, and the reasons will continue to reveal themselves to you! I wish I was so eliquent as this "manifesto". It is beautiful.

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  3. I write because I want to reeveal the truth of God's redemming love and his faithfulness in my writing. I want to create stories that inspire, encourage, and entertain others. I also need a creative outlet for the stories that swirl around in my imagination. It is also good therapy!

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  4. I write because I think I'd stop breathing if I stopped. Even in the seasons when writing is slow, I am writing something--whether it's journaling, emails, blogs, etc. Writing is how I reason, it's how I dream, and how I see the world.

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  5. You know, I'm contemplating this very thing in an upcoming post on my blog. Perhaps it's the month of reflection:) Great minds think alike.

    I write because I love to, and I feel that this is what I'm called to do. So much joy and satisfaction in the process...potential to reach others for Him and share. Have been blessed to meet others (like you!) who share this amazing journey.

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  6. I really like this. I write because it helps me get my thoughts together. Sometimes my ADHD thoughts are so jumbled that I cannot focus. Then I write and suddenly I am able to better complete the task at hand.

    I write because I enjoy it. it helps me find the humor in the everyday mundane.

    I write because it makes me smile, and hopefully, just hopefully, it makes others smile too.

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  7. I write because I can't NOT write! I'm primarily a song writer, and sometimes I just hear a phrase or read a scripture and it jumps out at me, and sticks in my head until I write the song!
    There was a time many years ago when I was discouraged, wondering why I even bother, when it seemed no one was listening...then one day I got this picture in mind that was so vivid, I jumped up and grabbed a pen and started writing what I saw. I realized that day that I would keep writing even if no one but God ever heard my songs. They are, after all, written for Him and His glory....I just needed to trust that He would use them in His way and His time...and He is.

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  8. What thoughtful pricking words. The quote resonates with me as well. It brings to mind the scripture, work heartily as unto the Lord and not man.

    When I write for Him, it feels as intimate as whispering into the ear of the one I love.

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  9. Wow, that was amazing. I am going to have to read this again in the future.

    On that list there are so many reasons why I write, but mostly because it's part of the unique me that God created. And it's a journey that I never could and never would want to leave behind.

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  10. This is such a beautiful post, Carla! To me, writing is like falling in love so I fully understand your lovely quote. I fell in love with books as a child and writing is my best loved thing to do. I think God gifts each of us to be passionate about something and that passion is reflected in our stories if we're hardwired to write.

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  11. That's a very thorough list of why's... a thoughtful look at a very complex topic! I think my reasons can best be summed up as writing to capture the multitude of thoughts that spill out and if not captured on paper will be lost forever. It means I really write for myself, for very selfish reasons, but I believe God gives the initial thoughts and provides direction in how they are expressed.

    Carol Garvin

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  12. Oh, how I love hearing all your thoughts.

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  13. Beautiful post, Carla. Your last line is amazing. I write because I can't remember a time when I didn't want to. It's a piece of me.

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  14. I just want to clarify, this excerpt of "Why I Write" is by Terry Tempest Williams, not me. Although my thoughts are alike.

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  15. Love the reason you write: "I pray that my writing will be a sweet offering to the One, my First Love, the Author and Finisher of my faith." I could adopt your prayer as my own, Carla. Beautifully worded and so true! Thanks for this post! God bless!

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  16. This is a great question for me to ponder. I remember being in writing classes in college and answering this question for professors. I remember some of my answers and wonder now if they cringed when they heard them. But it would be good to revisit and form (for my own good) the reason...

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  17. Thanks for sharing Terry's article, Carla. I think it sums it up well for all of us!

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  18. I write because if I didn't my head would explode from all the characters and plots swirling around in there! LOL. I've found that when I haven't had time to write my WIP spills over into my dreams -- talk about having a restless night!

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