I have often been accused of being too open and honest in my words or of revealing too much intimacy when I write and share. I find this point quite interesting and it made me consider, just what is it I want to achieve with my writing? So straight away I turned to some advice by greater writers than I and I heard comments like:
- “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” Flannery O’Connor.
- “Writing is my way of expressing – and thereby eliminating – all the various ways we can be wrong-headed.” Zadie Smith.
- “Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost.” Nicole Krauss.
- “For me, writing is like being gay. You finally admit that this is who you are, you come out and hope that no one runs away.” Mark Haddon.
- “A word after a word after a word is power.” Margaret Atwood.
- “I do what I do, and write what I write, without calculating what is worth what and so on.” Arundhati Roy.
So, they are saying, they write to please themselves?
But then there’s the amazing Alice Walker who says: “Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.”
I hear that, there are many people walking around and breathing today because I chose the pen rather than the sword!
But then there is my darling, Maya Angelou who tell us: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
Can you even begin to imagine a world where Maya failed to share her joys and her pain?
“Writing is a job, a talent, but it’s also the place to go in your head. It is the imaginary friend you drink your tea with in the afternoon.” Ann Patchett.
Many a cuppa shared with you Ann and then, one of my favourite answers, from one of my favourite writers:
“Any writer worth [her] salt writes to please [herself]…It’s a self-exploratory operation that is endless.” Harper Lee.
For me writing is a form of expression – a form that I cannot remember not using. From the first day we were asked in primary school to write about someone we loved, and I wrote about my Grandmother, then my Mother, then my Dad, and soon almost every experience I ever had, I would find myself trying to describe it in my head. I’ve written about the robin that sits on my fence when I’m in the garden, and even before I wrote, I mentally composed how I would describe this experience. I suppose, like some people become addicted to the selfie, I’m addicted to writing, almost as if, it didn’t happen until I’ve found a way to express it or maybe even more so, to explain it.
Writing has saved me on so many occasions. The Artist Way taught us decades ago to just put our garbage on paper and then try to make sense of it. Sometimes I only recognise how silly or negative I’m being until I’ve read something I wrote. Often, I will catch myself in a lie – especially when writing from self-pity.
I write because I have many shared experiences with other women, with people from the Caribbean, with people of colour, with people of a certain age, with people who care about the planet, and writing connects us, it enables us to recognise that we are not alone.
I write because by sharing some of my most magnificent moments, as well as some of my most destructive, I can connect, amuse, insight, inspire, motivate, encourage and even empower.
I write because my view of the world is unique, as is yours.
Writers write for as many different reasons as readers read.
But, I think for me it is slightly egotistical. I love reading about amazing people in mansions who fall in love, but I also wanted people to read about people like me or my Mom or my Grandma (to know more about her strengths, her motivations, her challenges and her joys).
I write because for me writing is like breathing, eating, or brushing my teeth. I cannot imagine a day without it.
I make no apology and I will not censor my words or indeed my emotions to make others feel that failure, despair, sadness, or loneliness are weaknesses. They are jumping off points, if used wisely and as common place as happiness, gratitude, hope and joy.
And as a writer, I will express them all.
Why do you write?