why write, i ask myself

Well, I answer… here’s one reason:

I write because there’s so bloody much to understand and how would I ever begin to understand any of it except to note the questions and play with the answers in the form of possibilities and see the shape of it all on the page until I can see myself within it somewhere… and then maybe, just maybe, through the alchemy of time and distance I might be able to do at least this much— to look backward or forward and say yes, I see how I’m different now, and how I’m the same.

What I do with that understanding is, of course, another thing entirely.
On the other hand I might just be fond of moving commas about…

…or want to change the world or have an excess of words in my head that don’t neatly fit into any of my cupboards. It could be that Nancy Drew had more of an effect on me than I realize and I’m still trying to write that perfect Hidden Staircase. My fondness for sitting near open windows shouldn’t be discounted, nor should my ability to sit in rooms by myself for hours with little company other than open windows. I attribute that last quality to the number of time-outs I received as a child, only then they were called “Go to your room and stay there!”
If only my dear parents knew how that was but music to my ears…

And what about the girl who delivers newspapers with a smile and a wooden cart and appears to have no idea how special she is — who will write about her if I don’t?

Perhaps I write because I can. Or I am. Therefore I do. Maybe it’s complicated like that. Maybe I haven’t a clue.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe I should stop asking stupid questions and get back to work.


4 thoughts on “why write, i ask myself

  1. Not a question I ask myself, or who knows when I’d come up for air. Writing is work, yes, because nothing will occupy you so fully. It’s play too. It makes no sense to spend so much time doing it. When everything melds and comes together, nothing feels better. When everything sticks and clumps, you want to stuff your head in the garbage can.

    1. True enough. Part play, part tinny wail coming from the dustbin. You have a knack for painting exactly the right picture…

      I’m sometimes curious though, at the mystery of art, beyond the “I must or I’ll perish” thing that always feels like a non-answer and makes me want to counter with: why will you perish? I remember reading Two Solicitudes — conversations between Atwood and Victor Levy-Beaulieu — in which they explore this mystery and madness, among other things of course… because mystery and madness are really such a small part of writing. (:

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