Why I write

Let me make one thing clear on the front end of this piece: why someone writes is their business. No artist of any kind is under any obligation to explain why he or she creates. Responding with, I’m sorry, but that’s none of your business, is a just response. It is no one’s business.

As far as I’m concerned, whatever it takes a writer to put words on a page is fine with me. First off, the page can be a hard place to get to and, once there, the necessary experience of being fully present in the moment can be heavy lifting at times. Its the words, the writing that I care most about.  An actor who hopes to win an Oscar is no more betraying the craft of acting than a writer who hopes to win a Pulitzer is betraying the craft of writing. Wanting or hoping for an accolade is not a betrayal of creative purity. To think it is is misguided in the best light, and rubbish in any other light.

I have no problem explaining, to some extent, why I write. For some years now my short answer has been pretty much the same: Sometimes I write because I want to, always I write because I have to. I suppose I could polish that sentence into finer stuff, but I’m leaving it as it is because it was born that way.

It is the sanctuary of language itself that brings me to the page, writing or reading. As far back as I can remember, books and writing have provided sanctuaries I could depend on. Even when I was homeless they were they. I am not by nature a thief, but, when I was on the street, I had no problem at all pinching paperback books off those always-squeaky! book racks in drugstores.

Language is a living thing for me. Words are living beings; they have  shape, movement, sound; they each have their own pulse; they can be moody. I short, words have personality, every damn one of them.

And then, of course, there is this: language is great company. I am never alone when I write or read. Like I said: Sometimes I write because I want to, always I write because I have to.


A Citizen of Writing

Writing is a place I’ve been visiting for quite awhile now. I’ve discovered that if you visit often enough you look up one day, and you’re a citizen of writing. I’d have it no other way.

Being a writer simply means one thing: write. What you do with it is up to you. Whether you send it out for publication, keep your work in a drawer, or throw it away,  you’re still a writer. It is easy to get trapped in the propaganda quicksand of marketing and making money and the quest for fame. And if you do become famous and make lots of money, what, in the long run, would that mean?  In the long run, not a damn thing. Because in the long run you’ll be gone, but your writing won’t.  And that there’s some good news.

I have a wide-ranging relationship with writing. Sometimes  my words become journal entries, poems, short stories, books, memoir, essays. And of course there are the blog pieces, many of them op-ed in nature as they take some to task, put folks on the spot. Oh well…

Now I’ve been on my own for a long time now, since I was 16 to be exact. That’s forty years and counting. I think people who find themselves without family find places of refuge, some healthy some not. God knows I sought refuge in some unhealthy places. But there were some healthy places of refuge too: writing, reading, music and the sanctuary of nature.

It’s nice being a citizen of writing, of reading, of music, nature,  life.

My thought for you, my dear reader? Remember to live. You are a citizen of life, and maybe writing too.