Why Write?

In a previous post, I eluded to reasons that explained my passion for chronicling the lives of dogs and the lessons they teach us when we are keen enough to observe and humble enough to listen. This post is along similar lines; however, I hope to explore my motivation for writing in the first place.

When I was younger, cancer consumed four long, arduous, and confusing months of my fragile life. Someone, whom I unfortunately cannot recall, suggested I turn to expressing my feelings through written word. From that day forward, I began to draft intermittent but impassioned prose, venturing to the darkest and brightest corners of my life, begging for answers, and searching for meaning amongst a period of time that felt drenched in obscurity and fear. Writing provided me with a canvas to curse my demons, count my blessings, reject convention, question everything, and spill my weary soul just enough so that I might be able to put it back together the next day. But writing would come to serve as something more than therapeutic as time elapsed.

As I healed from the tragic yet enlightening year that defined my understanding of resilience and reality, I began to see the beauty of language. I had once known it for its ability to soothe my fears and relay my thoughts to a surface of non-judgement, but as I matriculated to college and began my professional life, I began to realize that written words could tell stories that my physical voice could not–I began to understand that my clearest, most focused, and insightful thoughts were best realized on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. I began to see the lasting impact of print, and it struck me that I had also been greatly influenced by the prose of others throughout my entire life.

Whether reading gripping novels or thumbing through The New Yorker for its cartoons, written word tends to move me and evoke emotion in ways that other art forms simply do not. Maybe it is the challenge of ascribing and finding meaning that I am enamored by, or perhaps the ferocity and fearlessness it demands of one to stamp their permanent mark on something that others will view until its ink fades or computers fail. Either way, I am drawn to the medium for reasons I can define and others that remain intangible.

These reasons that inspire my yearning to write, those which I cannot fully grasp, may be exactly what keep me coming back to the art. As E.B. White once said, “Writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar.” If I could convey and transmit just one truth of writing to my students, this would be it. For one to understand and embrace the idea that their thoughts are to be raw, powerful, emotionally charged, and provocative–that is the key to any piece of writing that will someday be worth reading. And I say “someday” because writing begins much like a child enters the world. An infantile state of being, whether portrayed by a newborn child or terribly unrefined first draft, is open to flaw, without blemish, void of judgement, and willing to test boundaries. It is when a child grows that it learns to perceive the world in different ways, and it is in these same stages that a piece of writing demands revision and requires our attention to detail. Much like an artist that first requires a vision, so too does a pen require a pad. Without the most basic of equipment and a desire to work through the painful stages of enlightenment, one cannot expect to expand their world–such is true in accordance with the process of writing and becoming more effective among the trade.

Finally, I write because as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous character, Nick Carraway, narrator of The Great Gatsby, suggested of reserving judgement of others, I believe that writing with intensity and purpose is “a matter of infinite hope.” Hope for days coming that will test one’s resolve, commitment, and general being. Hope for innovation, vision, adaptation to life and its circumstances, and the myriad of fantastic and unfortunate events that will come to present themselves in ways that will demand our better selves to emerge–this better self, for me, is never more present than when my pen hits paper or the tips of my fingers pound relentlessly upon the black keys that transport my inner-most feelings to the screen that reflects more than my words.

For me, writing is an unparalleled form of celebration and articulation of self. My hope is that you feel that in some capacity and choose to think critically of something that has made its way to the page before your eyes.

“Writing in a journal reminds you of your goals and of your learning in life. It offers a place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself.”

Robin S. Sharma


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