Why I Write…

Apr 9, 2012 | Freedom, life, Living, Permission, Worth, Writing, Writing prompt


“Like everyone else, I am going to die. But the words – the words live on for as long as there are readers to see them, audiences to hear them. It is immortality by proxy. It is not really a bad deal, all things considered.”

~ J. Michael Straczynski

 “Is life not a hundred times too short for us to stifle ourselves?”

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

In November 2008 I did a free write on ‘why I write.’Each time there was any hint of a pause in my pen I would begin again with ‘I write because…’ and as a result the piece below was formed.

What drives you to do the things you love?

Sitting down and writing about it this way is a good, sturdy path for taking you into the voice beneath your own passion.

You may be surprised how much it has to say.

Why I Write…

I write because it was the earliest tool I had, and it went unnoticed, I could do it at school or home and it looked like I was doing my studies. I could write poems, feelings and questions on trees in the deep scrub and walk away.

I write because I knew early I had something I needed to leave behind and not store within me. I write because it’s the one place I can say exactly what I mean in the right way with the right words.

I write because nobody said I couldn’t and a pen was safe. I write because no one knew who I was and everyone looked at me through a weird distorted window and I learned they couldn’t hear me when I told them ‘that’s not who I am’ so I wrote.

I write because it’s who I am, I am notebooks with sentences and pens with ink.

I write because I can make a page become a song or a home for someone inside me that never had a place safe to go and call their own.

I write because I am a writer, I am a poet and poetry is my tribe and writing is my tent and my fire and my bed. I write because it is the link between me and the people who I am most likely to connect with though we may never meet.

I write because strokes and shapes on a page can free prisoners, give people back their lives, open eyes, restore faith, make a home for the forgotten, a voice for the mute or silenced, a cradle for the broken hearted, a door to open on a place closed for too long, an invitation which says ‘you are welcome here, you belong.’

I write because everything else has conditions and risks, writing won’t tell me I’m ‘too much’ or ‘not good enough’ it won’t tell me to stop crying or missing the dead, it won’t wake up one day and leave me standing on the side of the road with nothing.

I write because I can visit my Father safely through the page even though he’s no longer on earth, I can talk to my mother before she had the strokes which made her forget who everyone was, I can warn my sister, please, don’t go to the station alone at night, I can stand at the cottage at Mooloolaba and not let Dave go, I can hold my children as babies, I can go anywhere I need, back down streets, climb old trees, find my younger self on that street and tell her the truth .

I write because it is the most authentic me I can be, I write because it is my real world, I write because it is the land I understand.

I write because I am lucky, I can get paper, pencils, pens, notebooks, I can write anywhere at any time, I can write what I want, I have the right and freedom to and others don’t always have these things and I write for the reminder of my freedom for the reminder of how huge a freedom it is.

I write because I can picture the dark cell, the damp floor and the barred windows too small for warm light. I write because I can hear that voice in the trapped heart.

I write because it matters, because it is something I can leave behind yet carry with me.

I write because I have something to say, I write because there will always be more stories than time to record them.

I write because it makes a difference, I write because I have so much to tell you and more keeps adding to it all the time.

I write because I’m not afraid to tell the truth, I write because my life is worthwhile because my life is worth it.

I write because if helps one person say ‘yes, yes that’s how I feel’ or ‘that happened to me too, I thought I was alone’

If it can move people in some way, if it makes them cry or laugh or feel, if it makes them pick up a pen or paintbrush or guitar, if it makes one person feel less lonely, less unheard, it’s worth it.

I write because writing shows me who I am, where I’ve been, what I’ve been most secretly hiding, wanting, avoiding, desiring, it surprises me.

I write to be a vessel, I write for all these reasons and more and for reasons I don’t know and might never know.

I write because I come alive when it’s me and the pen and the page and the light and the moment.




For the Young Who Want To

Talent is what they say
you have after the novel
is published and favorably
reviewed. Beforehand what
you have is a tedious
delusion, a hobby like knitting.

Work is what you have done
after the play is produced
and the audience claps.
Before that friends keep asking
when you are planning to go
out and get a job.

Genius is what they know you
had after the third volume
of remarkable poems. Earlier
they accuse you of withdrawing,
ask why you don’t have a baby,
call you a bum.

The reason people want M.F.A.’s,
take workshops with fancy names
when all you can really
learn is a few techniques,
typing instructions and some-
body else’s mannerisms

is that every artist lacks
a license to hang on the wall
like your optician, your vet
proving you may be a clumsy sadist
whose fillings fall into the stew
but you’re certified a dentist.

The real writer is one
who really writes. Talent
is an invention like phlogiston
after the fact of fire.
Work is its own cure. You have to
like it better than being loved.

Marge Piercy