Why Do I Write?

Why do I write? I understand why others do when I read their words. They create such beauty! They tell such tales! I want more and more. There is purpose in what they do, those writers who write for the rest of us.

Why do I write?

Because I always have. Words on paper teach me what I think, tell me what I feel. The putting of the words, the choosing, and the playing are all part of the lesson. The discovery. I hold the paper like a mirror and there see who I am.

Why do I write here? Ah. That’s a different question: the blog dilemma. I started it as an exercise in discipline. Could I write daily? Could I write creatively (whatever that meant)? Could I write something more than my journal and share it? Could I write about writing all those poems I’d kept hidden for years? Could I write as a way to connect to a part of myself that no one else knew? Could I write?

Why do I keep writing? Because if I stop, I can’t call myself a writer, even though that’s a secret identity I’ve shared with only a handful of people. I’m like one of those characters on a tv show who has a handmade superhero costume and goes out at night to fight crime, but always ends up needing the real hero to save him. I’m actually very timid and have no confidence in my own words. I don’t have the courage of the real writers, the ones who publish, the ones who enter contests, the ones who say, “Look at what I do!” I only come out at night, when there’s little chance that I’ll run into anyone who knows me.

“Are you a writer?” Me? No. I just write. It’s not the same.

Why do I write when I’m so afraid? Because I don’t know what else to do. I need something to do. This is all I know. I feel trapped, and alone, and scared, looking out at a mysterious world. I don’t know how to be in this world. Words are armor. Books are friends. Poems are snacks. I can survive this way.

Why do I write? Because I enjoy it. I do. I love words and rhythms and rhymes. I wish I were more clever. I wish I were more everything. I remember a me who lived long ago, before years of wandering shaped this self, a me who loved the spotlight. That me would sing songs in front of strangers, laugh loudly, welcoming the attention. She bounced through her life, lonely on the inside, but still confident enough on the outside that she didn’t fear the world. She was clever and quick. She could have been a writer. A real one. That me.

Why do I write when I’m not her anymore? Because I’m afraid I’ll forget everything about myself. I’m afraid I’m already forgetting. Maybe it’s too late for me to tear free from the fear—it’s thick and smothering, and I’m not strong enough to fight through it. I struggle to learn my own words. She would have remembered them with ease. I’m not her anymore. Song lyrics are gone. Poems I knew by heart, I can’t recite. Not even the ones I’ve written myself.

I write because I still can. However well. However badly. I wish it were something more than it is. I wish I were more than I am. I wish I knew why I’m not.

So I write.

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