Thursday, May 6, 2010

On Writing (Or, My Words Are My Children)

I hesitated to post this because I've often heard that writers shouldn't write about the art of writing for its own sake. But my mind ran off in a strange direction, so I'm going with it...

I’ve heard it said that writers write because we have no other choice. The drive to write is a force that comes from within and compels us to put on paper (or computer monitor) the thoughts, dreams, stories, and whatnot that refuse to stay put inside our heads, where they often belong, no doubt. The intended result is a sense of fulfillment, of having accomplished something.

I have known this to be true for almost as long as I can remember. And I have an impressive memory that can be documented back to when I was nineteen months old, I kid you not. But that’s fodder for another time.

Now, at forty-three years old, I am still writing and feeling rather unfulfilled. Why?

I guess I’ve always believed my writing would save me in some way, release the burdens that weighed me down, set free the longing and nostalgia that bring me more pain than pleasure, make me into the undeniably amazing woman that I so yearn to be…! You get the idea.

Apparently, I am wrong.

So why do I write then?

I have no idea.

No earthly idea.


I’ve got it.

I write because keeping all this junk in my head would make me explode…or implode…I’m not sure which.

Getting it out is like finally being able to see the thing that’s been bothering me so I can analyze it, figure it out, break it down until I’ve gotten…absolutely nowhere.

Okay, let me try again.

It’s like the words that materialize were born in my brain, grew there briefly, and now need to be free, Mom. Ya know, just be free already! I’m a grown-up word who wants to live and see the world. I can’t stay cooped up there inside your head, bumping around in your brains. It’s gross! I need out. So thanks, fingers, for setting me free already. Took ya long enough!

Now what?

Once my precious words leave my head and make it onto the page, I don’t feel much better. Oh, sure. In the short run, I do, because I can see my thoughts and ideas come to fruition in print! But then I feel sort of empty, like those empty nesters that send their kids off to college with a sigh of relief but then come home to find the house frighteningly still. It’s not so much that they miss their kids, in my opinion, but rather that they’re stuck with a more awful dilemma…what to do now.

When I release my words, I feel liberated but, at the same time, mournful of the loss. Inside my head, those words had such potential, but once on paper, they seem to lose their promise. I love them, as I always will, but I have to accept that they are only words, out there with all those other words of the universe. They will have to make their own way and let people decide if they will be accepted as words of wisdom, words of entertainment, or just plain nonsense.

In the end, though, I suppose it really doesn’t matter. Because they’re my words. I put them out there, and I must be proud of them. I did the best I could and then set them free. Maybe they’ll end up doing nothing more than getting deleted into someone’s recycle bin or lining the proverbial birdcage. Or maybe they’ll end up inspiring someone else to love and cherish their own words, nurture them, and then set them free to explore the world. And then I will have done something good. Through my words.

And that is why I write.


  1. They are a bit like children aren't they?

    Remember in school when you knew the answer but didn't raise your hand? When you wanted to make a joke but were afraid no one would get it? Then someone else gives the answer / makes the joke and takes all the glory because you didn't have the guts to put it out there first?

    I write so I can be that person. So I can touch people.

  2. Writing is a part of us. It is in the way we view the world. We see things differently than other people and we have a need to share what we see or what we feel.

    Life comes at us at an alarming rate and there are times that we need to slow it down. No, I don't mean that I have some time machine, silly. Just that writing allows us to choose whatever time, whatever place, whatever moment we want to convey to our reader and hopefully engage their mind & heart with the story. We have no control over their reaction, no borders that can keep certain opinions away and no force that will determine whether or not the reader will love it. The point is, we love it, we need to share it, we felt it, we saw it and we found a piece of ourselves on every page.

    Writing is our mark, our small stamp on a world rushing all around us. There is no need to ever justify the why so long as you continue to write.

    Love this post, Wendy. ;o)

    Visit My Kingdom Anytime

  3. Writing is so much more than the act of putting words on paper, it is our need to create and possibly our need to have control over something - anything - in this world. It is fulfilling.

  4. No surprise that my writer blogfriends would have beautiful remarks about this post. Writing=passion!

  5. Isn't it beautiful, the possibilities of all those words strung together. The way they might move readers, touch them, inspire them, motivate them, gladden them ... the list goes on. Keep writing, keep putting those words down.