My participation in the upcoming Summer Shorts project requires me to answer the question “Why do you write?” That’s a hard question, but here’s my attempt at an answer:
Nothing is simple. The world is a complex place—filled with complex people, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. People make sense of that complexity in a variety of ways—through song, painting, discussions, debate, theater, science, math. Whether they’re watching, reading, or participating, they are using such tools to better understand the world in which they live. For me, writing is the tool I use to attach meaning to the experiences in my life, it’s how I mine them for life lessons, how I see beyond the black and white to really understand them.
I write to be understood…and to understand. I write to express my own feelings, to try to understand those of others. I write to share stories. Story-sharing connects us to other people, helps us better understand them, develops in us a sense of empathy that is at the very core of our survival as human beings. I write, too, to explore the unknown—to keep from cowering in the face of this greatest of all fears—to meet it head-on, even if I’m only imagining what it might be and how I might conquer it. I write to express my emotions—the sorrow, the fear, the anger, the pain—to keep them from bottling up, to relieve the pressure, to prevent an explosion. I write to feel heard—even though my voice is small. I write so others know they’re not alone, and so I know that I’m not either. I write to sleep—to give the thoughts relentlessly running through my head a place to go, so I can have some peace. I write because I think. And I don’t know any other way.