Why do you write? Every now and then I return to this existential question.
Like Flannery O’Connor, I don’t know what I think until I write. I need to see my thoughts spelled out in words, and then I can edit them, put them in order. When I see them in black and white, or purple- I love purple gel ink pens– I can shape them. But until then they are floating and abstract.
Have you thought about this? I’m almost certain you have, but it’s worth revisiting now and then. Like Henri Nouwen, I’m seeking to articulate the movement of my inner life.
As writers, maybe we are also trying to rephrase the world, take it in and give it back better, “so that everything is used and nothing is lost” as Nicole Krauss writes.
Or, like Anaïs Nin maybe we want to create a world in which we can live, different perhaps from the one we inherited. “I had to create a world of my own, … a climate, a country, an atmosphere in which I could breathe, reign, and recreate myself when destroyed by living. That, I believe, is the reason for every work of art.”
Or perhaps like Gao Xingjian, we write to ease our suffering, to reaffirm our own existence. Or writing is an “attempt to keep that fragile strand of radical hope, to build a fire in the darkness.” – John Green
“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem
So why do you write?