Sunday, May 06, 2012

Why I Write

I recently gave the keynote speech at the Central California Writers' Conference in Oakhurst, CA (near the incredibly beautiful Yosemite), and I have been asked by one of the writers in attendance to post a portion of it here. 

The focus of my speech was on why writing (both the process and the product) matter. I emphasized the importance of knowing why it is that you write, what drives you and/or a particular project.

Here is my answer:

I write because I love language. I love the way that words trip and tumble across my tongue. I love the subtleties of it, the nuances, the power. I write because writing makes me happy in a way that nothing else does. I write because it allows me to tell enormous lies. But I also write to tell the truths I am too afraid to say out loud.

I write to entertain myself; I write to entertain others.

I write because I have deadlines. But I would write even if no one cared whether I finished anything ever again or not.

I write because it’s the one thing I am good at. I write because when I don’t, I feel antsy and sad.

I write for my family, to preserve our history. I write to prove that I was here. That I lived in this world and felt things and loved things, that I experienced joy, that I despaired. I write for my children. And for the children they might one day have.

I write because I have stories to tell, even if I don’t know what they are until I put my fingers on the keyboard. I write to teach, sometimes. But mostly, I write to learn. There is still so much I don’t understand.

I write to make people laugh, and I write so that I will not cry. I write because I have no choice. I write to survive. I write to save others, and I write to save myself.

Now it’s your turn. Think about it. Ask yourself.

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