When you’re a writer, people seem to feel you must be bohemian enough to accept them asking you anything. Or maybe people are just rude.
Regardless, I’ve had many people ask me why I write. They look at me, curiously, wondering what the payoff is. Sometimes, the tone is just curious. Other times, it is akin to the tone one takes when one asks a stranger: “Do you realize your hair is on fire?” It is as if they hope to wake me up to a fate I must surely be unaware of—the fate of writers, doomed to live lonely with lots of cats, eating a mainstay diet of canned soup and oyster crackers.
Have I mentioned I have a vivid imagination? That probably goes without saying.
I am honest about the practical wishes I have. To be paid to blog? Heaven. To get a book contract? A notch above Heaven. To be awarded a regular column? Nah. Forget it. That doesn’t happen to anyone but the very lucky anymore. But a dream of mine? Sure. Ever since Dick Van Patten on “Eight is Enough”, I’ve longed for the columnist’s mouthpiece, lifestyle and accoutrements. Don’t ask me why such an uninspiring show gave me inspiration—but it did. I think it’s the universe’s way of having a laugh at my expense.
Most of us do not write for practical reasons. Rarely does writing put food on the table, pay school tuition, fund family vacations. At least, not the kind of writing most columnists do.
We write because we’re writers.
I don’t say this while donning a black beret, joining the writers’ union and smoking French cigarettes.
I say it in the humblest, most respectful way possible. As I type this at midnight on a night I’ve worked my “real” job all day and am dog tired. But my mind won’t let me go to sleep with this post rattling around in my head. If you’re a writer, you understand this insanity.
I don’t know why I’m a writer. Don’t know why my written voice is many times wiser than my spoken voice. More eloquent. More thoughtful. More inspired.
But it is.
When I write, I can hear the words coming. And their rhythm.
In a recent interview, Pharrell said when he hears music, he sees colors. And so do many musicians. He literally sees the music in another medium.
My friend thought that odd. Not me. I totally get it.
The writing comes through me. It’s not necessarily of me.
Recently, many bloggers have been asked to describe their writing process in a blog entry.
Let me say it again. ZZZZ.
Quite frankly, I could care less what someone else’s process is. I don’t care how Elizabeth Gilbert or Anne Lamott get to a final destination. I’ll never use their process anyway. You know why? Because it’s THEIRS.
But I certainly appreciate their finished product.
So I’ll spare you the details on how I write what I write. Just know that when I write, some days I feel inspired. The words come so fast I can barely get them on the screen before they disappear from my mind.
Other days, I struggle. When I can’t write about things that are too private or would hurt my kids or someone I love—and there’s nothing but dirty dishes or laundry or a work presentation awaiting me—those are the days I scramble.
But the important thing is, I bring myself—heart, mind, soul and body—to the table. I show up. I ask to be inspired. I ask to hit a nerve or strike a chord with the people who read my writing.
If intention matters, I’m all in.
I do not ask my dentist why he practices dentistry. My real estate agent why she sells homes. I’m guessing it’s because they either need to make a living or they love what they do.
Jacque Cousteau explored the seas because he loved them. Georgia O’Keefe painted to express things. I write, in much humbler fashion, because I’m a writer. It’s one of the few unequivocal things I know. It’s what I’m supposed to do while I’m here.
Sometimes, that’s the simple, necessary answer.
And it is enough.