I am so pleased to be taking part in a “blog tour” today. For the past few weeks, writers throughout the blogosphere have been posting their entries on the same topic, “Why I Write.” I’ve found the entries to be as varied as the writers themselves, but all have been inspiring, thought-provoking and…quite humbling. So it is with some trepidation that I add my paltry 2 cents to this rich repository of thought.
Why I Write…well, frankly, the obvious answer for me is I write in preparation for a time when I may be forced against my will to refrain from talking—you know, like if I’m comatose or gagged and bound, although I do pride myself on keeping my endodontist entertained with amusing anecdotes even as I underwent two back-to-back root canals. Aside from almost choking on my own saliva a time or two, I missed nary a beat or a punchline.
So, for me, writing’s biggest draw is that it’s really just silent talking. I’m joking, of course, but in a very real sense, writing did fill my great need for conversation from an early age. As the caboose in a family of older siblings, I was in many ways more like an only child, often left to my own devices for entertainment or company. Blank composition books and spiral notebooks became my trusted confidantes, always available, never judgmental. I poured out my heart and soul, my triumphs and trials—especially how stunningly stupid adolescent boys could be—documenting and dissecting seemingly every single moment of my life. I developed such a co-dependent relationship with my journal during my teens that it sometimes seemed as if an event, no matter how significant, hadn’t really occurred until I had gone home and written about it.
I wrote professionally throughout my adult life, successfully working for years in public relations, radio and television, but it wasn’t until I was 41 that I got the chance to write “for myself,” when my first book was published. It was then that I fully realized the incredible power of this so-called silent talking. Silent talking in the form of my book allowed me to converse with so many more people than I ever could face to face, people who, amazingly to me, were moved and even helped by what I had to say and wanted to communicate with me as well. I was utterly flabbergasted by this response. Heck, when my agent first sold my manuscript, my highest hope was that the finished product wouldn’t totally humiliate me or my publisher. I hadn’t dared to dream that my words would actually resonate with other people, much less uplift them. Even more than a sense of gratification, this experience imparted to me a sense of responsibility as I came to understand that I was no longer writing solely for my own benefit, but for the support, comfort or, more often than not, the comic relief I could offer to others. If readers were trusting me to provide something of value, I knew I needed to try my best to deliver.
I have recently published my second book and I have once again been astounded at the powerful connections silent talking can forge among kindred spirits. Not long ago I received a message from a woman who had tracked me down via Facebook. She had suffered a series of tragedies no one should have to endure, including the loss of her child, husband and job, all while battling a debilitating neurological disease. “I’d been in bed, crying, with the covers pulled over my head for three weeks,” she wrote, “and then I read your book. For the first time in a year, I felt a spark of hope. I related to the struggles that you have had and decided that if you could fight back, I could too. I got out of bed this morning and got dressed. I don’t know how far I can go, but I have taken the first steps away from the past and into the future. Thank you so much for inspiring me.”
Why do I write? That’s why.
Here are a few other bloggers with great insights to share:
Jessica Nettles www.teacherslament.wordpress.com
Jessica lives in a 1960s ranch house in Powder Springs, Georgia. She has two children who are making their first forays into adulthood, which makes her very proud. When she isn’t teaching English at Chattahoochee Technical College in Marietta, Georgia, she writes, knits, and plays tabletop games. Yes, she is that girl that no one believes is real.
She will be posting her entry on “Why I Write” next Monday, but has lots of interesting takes on life, work, family and love on her blog right now. Take a look!