Exercise 7a: Why I Write…
Write a paragraph inspired by famous authors’ essays on why they write. Answer this (simple but very complex) question: Why do you write?
Why do I write? I’ve been learning the building blocks of language since early childhood. I learned words, letters and sentences. I don’t recall the exact moment of discovery when fibsfdoaijit gibberis became words, but I know it happened early. All those symbols on pages stopped swirling and started making sense. I could read! Not only could I read, I could read between the lines of my world. I remember standing up – smiling the proudest of grins – to receive my award for a perfect score in the district spelling bee.
I mastered the Art of English at a very young age … Or so I thought.
I would ask for a pony on the weekly grocery list, diligently writing a new horsey word on Dad’s notepad each week. Horse. Saddle & Bridle. New riding boots. A paddock. A beautiful halter with a brass nameplate. Animal Care books. All sensible things for a young suburban Montrealer.
I immersed myself in books to find the horses I couldn’t have. Ever thankful for a full library at school and a bookish Mother, I always had at least three books on the go. I lived, loved and laughed in those paper fantasy worlds. I read and write to explore worlds I will never see.
This beautiful style of communication meant everything to me. It was English or French. It was Grammar. It was Sentence Structure and Composition. Unfortunately, it was also torturous Verb Conjugation. It was poetry. It was a beautiful art form, allowing the writer and reader to intersect in a profoundly magical meeting of their minds. Even at my tender young age, I would sigh and smile with pleasure at a wonderfully constructed piece of prose; its surprise, its seductiveness and its eye-opening promise.
A little older, I appreciated the visual beauty of the printed word; calligraphy, typographic art, fonts and lettering. Simple words tango dancing a well-choreographed poem across a stark white canvas. I write to see my own handwriting flow across the page. My saddest regret is not having a sample of my Father’s perfect cursive. His signature was an artform.
I learned that writing helped me absorb new concepts, and to think more coherently, so I took vigorous notes and rewrote them in a more comprehensive format. I used words to understand science, technology, history, geography and math. I wrote to famous people to find out their game.
I artfully expressed birthday wishes and thank yous. I wrote to express my emotions. I read to befriend my loneliness. I wrote to fulfill homework assignments. I wrote to inquire about jobs. I wrote presentations and emails. I wrote my Mother’s eulogy.
I wrote for the sheer joy of it – like a horse let out to pasture after a long winter – I would sniff the air, give a little buck and race to the edge of the field just because I could. I desperately wanted to frolick and leap with my sentences and feel our freedom of speech.
I tested my boundaries.
Extroverts talk to think and Introverts think to talk. This extrovert, me, prefers to talk on paper then weigh my words. Alas, the pen is mightier than the sword and my anger slashed and burned several pages, leaving visible digs and cuts. I bared my hurts, my vulnerabilities and my fears. I bared my teeth when wronged.
When faced with a series of major life challenges, I was driven to write authentically. To seek my truth and find my way. My online writing was born. I searched and searched for a blog to emulate and realized that it wasn’t there. My voice was unique, and I can see things in new light in ways others don’t. I needed to be the new voice.
As I poured out my fear of the unknown, anger, pain, grief, I also wrote about spirituality, love, happiness and sex.
The readers came. For guidance. For a laugh. For the truth. For the shock. For some comfort. For the sister and brotherhood of someone who understands. For the voyeuristic view into someone else’s life. Most nodded in agreement, while others whispered their opinions in gossip circles calling it hateful trash. This made me laugh!
I write to set the record straight. I write to find the gift in something as horrible as cancer. I write to expose the truth. I write to understand myself and others. I write to dig into research on whatever my curiosity fancies. My wandering path is a roadmap that could perhaps guide another’s journey.
I write to balance ego and humility. I write so I don’t go insane. I used to run to ward off the crazies, but my mind still plays with itself.
Is it a human desire to leave a legacy? Capture and leave my memories? I want to tell my story. I want to leave instructions for my son. I like to believe that each of us is worth remembering. Never mind the inherited names and shared DNA … share the story of who we really are. Can you imagine if we collectively wrote our individual stories and changed the future? How could we guide future generations? I want to leave something with more length and more wit than a tombstone quote.
Maybe. Just maybe, something I write will change the world for the better.
Read the Fox blog: Hear what the Fox really has to say