Why do you write? In preparing this blog post, I asked myself that very question then sat down and wrote freely. Below I’ve shared what emerged. I’ve organized my responses into categories for ease of reading, but have tried not to edit the content too much.
I’ve interspersed my thoughts with photos I’ve taken of blossoms. To me, writing is a process of unfolding and blossoms represent that process. A flower bud has everything it needs to produce a blossom. Its energy builds until it lets go of its holding and allows its petals to unfold; they emerge newborn, delicate and beautiful.
Here are my responses to the question: Why do I write?
- to feel the gentle glide of the ink on paper and hear the scratch of the pen as it connects with the page
- to sense my breath gently moving in and out when I write in a very still and relaxed state
- to feel the excitement of creating something that didn’t exist a few moments before
- to express ideas, feelings, experiences and imaginings as only I can express them
- to plunge head first into new territory without a road map
- to experience the feeling of creation – that juicy feeling of being on the edge of something new, then watching it emerge without judging if it is good or bad…..just allowing it to emerge
- to touch a fleeting sense of knowing beyond knowing
- to write without knowing what will come next, trusting that the images that arise do so for a reason; following them rather than grasping for “something better”
LANGUAGE AS MUSIC
- to revel in the rhythm of language; language as music
- to listen for the music as I read my writing to myself out loud. Is the rhythm right?
PAINTING WITH POETRY
- to express thoughts, feelings, and images I wouldn’t be able to adequately express in prose
- to experience the thrill of finding a unique way of describing something
- to paint with words, adding texture here, colour there, sound over there
- to create poetry “mulch” through freewriting in response to an impulse – this may be a prompt in a writing session, a life experience or a snippet of overhead conversation
- to tell stories. I’m taken back to a time when I sat at my father’s knee, listening to the sound of his voice, the rhythms inherited from his Irish parents. His voice was like a radio announcer’s people said. I’m reminded of the magic of hearing him weave stories out of his imagination and into the ears of spellbound children (my sister and me)
- to touch the feeling I had when I wrote stories as a child – the thrill of knowing I could both make up things up and experience them in my imagination at the same time
- to experience the way a poem or story stays alive after I put my pen down, or turn off the computer. I end up with little scraps of paper in my purse and all over the house. They contain snippets of ideas often in illegible script. Sometimes the ideas come when I’m falling asleep or just waking up, or in the shower
- to write from a place that is painful or emotionally-charged. I most often do this only in my journal and only on days when I’m feeling very brave
- to sense the palpable energy in a room where seven or eight writers are bent over their notebooks, responding to the same prompt in a way that is personal to them
- to marvel at the unusual synchronicity that occurs when people write together. Sometimes the same image or phrase appears in the work of more than one writer
- to experience the joy of hearing writers read their newborn words in their own voice
- to feel the sense of community that is fostered by writing with others
I am sure that if I were to try this exercise tomorrow, I would produce many other, different reasons in response to the question “Why do I write?”
I encourage you to as yourself the question: “Why do I write?” then pick up pen and paper and let the ink flow for at least ten minutes. I’d love to hear what emerges.
Until next time,
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Our blog posts will continue over the summer, but we won’t be offering any more writing retreats until the autumn. We hope you’ll consider joining us for a Day Away to Write on October 6, 2013. The leaves will be just starting to turn – a perfect time for a country drive. We’ve also posted our 2014 retreat dates on our home page.
THE PHOTOGRAPHS IN THIS POST ARE BY JANIS MCCALLEN.