Why Do I Write, Anyway?


Last night I sat down to write the first version of today’s blog post. It was a particularly personal (read: exploitative) tale about my loving (read: insane) family (as per usual) but by the end–I don’t know how–I came to think about why I write in the first place. And that’s when I realized I needed to write a new post for today.

Because I got excited. I mean, really excited. My gears started turning and I couldn’t stop thinking of things to write–about why I write– long enough to brush my teeth efficiently. I mean let’s face it; I’ve had a pretty atypical childhood and adolescence. But last night as I wrote just how dysfunctional everything can feel at times in my family, I realized that I don’t just write for fun. I write to survive.

I’ve written my whole life. Before I entered kindergarten (I never went to pre-school) I made my mom write the letters of the alphabet down the left side of a sheet of paper so I could copy each letter over and over again all the way across to the right side. In the first grade, my class spent most of the year creating our own stories that we made into books. I wrote a book about my favorite color (which was green at the time), the baby my mom miscarried before she had me, and one about a pacifist princess who was trapped inside of a castle while a war was raging outside. Each page had an illustration and at the end of each book was a page entitled “About the Author.” Here, I wrote about where I lived and who I lived with and what I wanted to be when I grew up. With each new book, my dream profession changed. In one book, I wanted to be a ballerina; the next, a mother; the next, a rocket scientist. I guess I didn’t realize that writing could be a profession.

As I grew older and the world became more confusing, writing became an outlet, like many artistic endeavors. It became, and still is, a way for me to release emotion in a safe, healthy, and creative way. In this way, writing has been a way to heal. Writing has helped me make sense of a world that I don’t understand.

I write to solve problems in my own life and to help solve problems in my friends lives. I write to help others in the hopes that by sharing my stories, someone else will feel as though they aren’t alone and that one person in the world understands.

I write to escape a life I sometimes feel too big for because my dreams sometimes feel so grand that they feel impossible to accomplish. I write to escape a life I sometimes feel doomed for. Writing is my way to create a better life for myself than the lives of my family before me. It’s not that their lives haven’t been fulfilling to themselves, it’s just that I want something different. Although I’m scared I’ll never reach my dreams, I’m even more terrified of staying exactly where I have been the last twenty years and never reaching farther than the safety of my backyard. And that fear, of never even attempting to fulfill my dreams, is much scarier than the grandness of the dreams themselves.

And so with each piece of writing I complete, I feel more motivated and more inspired to write the next piece. One great idea can sometimes spawn off a slew of other great ideas. It’s self-perpetuating inspiration. Sometimes the thoughts come so fast I’m afraid I won’t be able to capture them all. They race one after another through my mind, as if they’re testing to see how quickly I can respond to their demands of being written down before they disappear forever.

One of the most exciting things about writing for me is that when I start, I can never be sure of where I’m going to end up. Like last night for instance. I started out by writing about my family and ended up writing about my need to write. Writing for me, is like a road trip without a map. Sometimes you end up in a really cool place like a water park or a zoo. Sometimes you end up in weird places like your ex-boyfriends house. And other times you end up in really painful places, like your dad’s hospital bed. But by traveling through language, I learn about myself and suddenly, I’ve created something. What was once a blank piece of paper is now filled with my thoughts. What was once nothing, is now something.

To conclude with all my writing about writing, I’m happy (and super proud) to announce that this summer I’ll be taking the next step toward my dream of becoming a writer. At the end of May I’ll be headed to NYU for their creative nonfiction summer writing program for four weeks. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime and I thank each and every person who has ever taken the time out of their day to read my blog. You are helping my dreams come true.