Author’s note: I’m a member of an online community called Becoming Writer. This week’s cafe question asked participants to answer “Why do you write?” I sat down to type up a reply and opened a can of worms. Might as well share it here.
I have a love-hate reaction to this question. Any time someone asks why I write, or even what Iâ€™m writing, I feel something between all the air being sucked out and me and a child whoâ€™s so excited and has to pee and just canâ€™t take the time and canâ€™t stop talking and â€¦
Either stone-faced panic or rambling.
Iâ€™m probably doing it now.
There are so many little reasons why I write, but they may just be symptoms of the bigger cause. When I try to verbalize this to others, I feel at a loss for words â€¦ and Iâ€™m NEVER at a loss for words. Itâ€™s like one of lifeâ€™s great ironies â€¦ ooh, ask Stephanie about her writing and watch her go â€¦ speechless. Â Ha, ha, ha. Very funny, Universe.
I write because I love words. I love stories. I even love grammar.
I write, as one participant said, to not forget. Much of my blog is dedicated to preserving memories with my children.
I write, as another said, to get out of my head. I spend way too much time here.
I write, as another said, for therapy. Who doesnâ€™t?
I write, as yet another said, because the storyâ€™s always changing. Thatâ€™s what keeps things interesting.
I write because â€¦ because â€¦ because â€¦
Because I canâ€™t not. When Iâ€™m not writing, the words donâ€™t stop. They float around in my head (I envision a wide-open empty space up there â€¦ perhaps with a few cobwebs in corners), giggling and dancing around. Maybe they start out as cuter versions of those mucus monsters from that medicine commercial. And then more join. And then more. And then more. What, on a good day after writing, started out as fun gathering of close friends turns into a mosh pit at the worst metal band concert of all time (or what I imagine that would be like since Iâ€™ve never actually seen a mosh pit â€¦ no comment on the worst metal band concert). Then itâ€™s all crowded and overbearing and every gasp for air only fills my nostrils with the stench of sweat. And then someone turns ups the heat, raising the sweaty word-bodies up like water just about ready to boil over. But just when I think the edge is near to provide some relief, like little droplets that run down the side of the pot, thereâ€™s no longer any water â€¦ instead the word-bodies are now the hard-boiled eggs whose cook forgot to turn off the heat. Crackle. Singe. Pop. BAM.
Have you ever tried to clean exploded, dried, over-cooked, egg off of a wall? Itâ€™s no fun.
Thatâ€™s what my brain feels like when I donâ€™t empty out the words â€¦
The truth is, Iâ€™m never empty of words. Even when I struggle getting the words on paper, which happens a lot, theyâ€™re always there, always replenishing. And thatâ€™s a good thing. I just have to write to keep the ones that live up there to a manageable mass.
Otherwise,Â somebodyâ€™s going to have to scrub exploded, dried, over-cooked Stephanie brain off of a wall. And, despite being headless, itâ€™d likely be me on clean-up duty. Cue the â€œainâ€™t nobody got time for thatâ€ meme.