Why Do I Write?
The Magical Sensory Experience of Being Alive
“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Why am I a writer?
If I could spend most of my days writing, in chosen isolation, I probably would. But why? (And why can’t I? That is a different topic for another time).
Today I am going to explore a few of the many of the reasons why I write.
I write to begin.
To prepare the garden bed, I must weed. I must pull and dig, clear away death and debris, find who made a home among the thistles, and encourage them to leave. I must turn over the earth and find the deep-rooted and stubborn weeds, as even in their home’s destruction, they will still find a way to hoard the nutrients.
In this preparation, I find the tree frog and the praying mantis. I find what grasses will cut my fingers in my unwillingness to wear garden gloves. I am surprised by the snake and the orb-weaver and the wonderment of their gorgeous markings. I am forced to look at what went untended, in order to clear for the new.
Writing is like this. Even when not putting pen to page or fingers to keys, writing is like this.
I write to witness, document, and honor being alive.
Writing is a magical, sensory experience. Through writing I organize and remember, manifest, and connect. I can hear harmony in the humming of the street lights. I am aware of the shift in the seasons, a winter hint in summer or an autumn glimpse in spring. I see more in people’s eyes. I can tell when someone hasn’t had the turn to speak, or when a voice has not been heard. I have become an empath, for better or worse. I have turned around a corner to smell the ghost of my grandfather, gone some 30 years.
I write to access my emotions.
I fear my own rage and my deepest trauma of sorrow. To surface these parts of me, at times I fear, would rattle the house and crack the earth wide open. My expression of my emotions do not actually have that much power, but they are pushed away regardless. But in writing, I can feel them safely. A character, a poetic phrase, a memory twisted into metaphor can bring tears and trembling. I can access the childhood sadness and the immense joy of simply being alive. To write is to live. To live is write. Writing is the breath and heartbeat of my wildest and most basic needs.
I write to read.
I often remind my students to read like a writer and write like a reader. This doesn’t always make sense to them. I think about the human experience: real, known, unconscious, and nebulous. When I am writing and thus reading, I look for the many ways people experience life. In the communication of our shared journey, we are not alone.
I write to read how you, the writer, might have lived through loss, shame, victory, darkness, evil, and redemption. I read to write about how I have lived through decisions, parenthood, eating disorders, anxiety, deep love, consistency, mental illness, loss, debt, sorrow, confusion, and awakening. I write and read to honor writers and all of the common and strange ways we are human.
Why do you, dear readers, write?
© Samantha Lazar 2019
Thank you for reading. Here are some links to previous work:Cut Yourself Open (And Let Your Writing Heal You)
What locked boxes are hidden deep in your closet?medium.comMy Personal Philosophy of Education
My Educational Philosophymedium.com