Author's note: I first wrote this post a few years ago at Laity Lodge, one of my "top three" places. I was in a spiritual non-fiction writing workshop with Lauren Winner, one of my favorite memoirists, and some of my fellow High Calling editors (and, yes, I was in book-nerd heaven). That particular morning, Lauren had handed out a piece by Joan Didion called "Why I Write," and she asked us to jot down our own thoughts before the next session. I loved hearing all the other participants' answers, and it was a good exercise to remind myself why I am committed--even in the midst of being a wife and mom, teaching, going to church, maintaining friendships, and speaking to women's groups--to the craft.
I write to process. My back can be tense, my head aching, my shoulders up to my ears-- but until I have time alone to process why I feel stressed, I often couldn't tell you why. And miraculously, by the time I write down words on paper or type them on a keyboard, my shoulders have relaxed.
I write as prayer. The act of stringing unconnected words together, and fitting them into new and creative phrases, is liturgy to me. As I scratch ideas out, it's as if each word is a bead in a rosary. I massage them and lift my eyes once in a while, murmuring incoherently, and somehow I feel a connection with my Creator.
I write to connect. When I share something I've written and the other person reading it nods and says, "Me, too!"--in cyberspace or in real life--a bridge opens up between us and we can walk across the gulf that existed before.
I write because I love words. I love their sounds, the way they look, and the way they can form sentences in new and surprising ways.
I write so I can breathe in the midst of a world that's too crowded, too noisy, and too painful.
I write so I can read. Reading is a habit, a compulsion, and a joy. It's the thing that waits for me as a treat at the end of a rough day. As a writer, the reading I do is deeper and more satisfying because I know how hard it is to do well.
I write regardless of whether or not something will get published, whether or not someone will read it, and whether or not it's "good."
I write because I love it.
I write because I have to.
I write because at the end of the day, as much as I see myself as a child of God, a daughter, wife, mom, and friend, at the very core of my being, I know this is how my mind works. This is how God has gifted me.
Do I ever want to give the gift back? Sure. Sometimes, it's too hard to be sensitive-to see the details instead of the big picture; to long for solitude when everything in the world seems committed to fighting against silence and stillness. It's too hard to suffer from rejection of my work, to feel alone in a crowd, to constantly crave the time I don't have to put words on paper.
This is who I am. This is who God created me to be.
I write because I am a writer.
Linking up with The High Calling. Image by Mary Anne Morgan. Design by Kris Camealy.