Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Why I Write

Why did I write? Because I found life unsatisfactory. (Tennessee Williams)

I write because life hands us more disappointment than joy, more hardship than ease, and getting past the hurdles – or not – is what makes one’s character. Years ago, when I moved to Boston from the then tiny hamlet of Chapel Hill, I came to know two older women who had survived the holocaust, tattoos intact on their inner arms. One, my neighbor, gave to others in our apartment building with grace even though she herself scraped by with only her social security benefits and no family to help her. The other, who with her American husband built a family empire based on a string of seafood restaurants and real estate holdings, bickered with her tenants over fixing 30-year old refrigerators, cockroach infestations, and broken windows. I write because I find so many people, or facets of people, unsatisfactory. I write to understand their motivations.

Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy. (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

No one leads a gilded life. No one lives on a perpetual cloud of bliss. The grass never is greener. Those people who appear to live on easy street are the ones who have the most to hide, the most to mourn. A hero is someone who conquers insurmountable obstacles and arrives on the other side. The obstacle may be infertility, an abusive parent, a stint in Afghanistan, mental illness, a childhood spent in luxury. I am curious about how obstacles shape people, especially those who make passage through them. I write about how people become when they reach the other side.

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. (Anais Nin)

I do not write fluff. I write to get at the hard stuff of life, to make sense of it. I write to understand actions, or lack of actions. I write to make sense of my life.

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart. (Maya Angelou)

I strive to write in hopes that my sense of my life helps you make sense of yours. If any of my words makes you pause and say: this moves me, this provokes me, this makes me see this situation with more compassion, then I have succeeded.

One of the pleasant things those of us who write or paint do is to have the daily miracle. It does come. (Gertrude Stein)

Every day I write with purpose results in at least one small epiphany. Sometimes, the epiphany extends and becomes what I call the flow. When I enter the flow, I become one with my craft, myself, my universe and higher being. It is sheer energy, one which reenergizes when the body and mind and spirit flag. I reach for this miracle, daily.


The amazing Cathy Webster tagged me with this “Why I Write” meme. Please, read her essay which is funny and sassy and sad and has all the characteristics which qualifies Cathy as one of the finest people who write about LIFE. And now, I pass along the baton to these word-spinners who writes what is real and from the best places of their hearts:

Mark Kerkstetter

Alison Wells

Michael J. Solender

Why do you write? Peace...


  1. Enjoyed this entry a great deal - thanks for sharing, and your sentiments are alway so heartfelt and so eloquently put. (you probably didn't know, but I do check your blog and other writings from time to time)

    If I were to write a blog post about why I write, I think my reasons would be quite different - they have changed over the years. I should probably think about doing a post like that.

  2. Your post definitely gave me a lot of food for thought and a pause to think of the reasons why I write when I do.

  3. That was great, Linda. You've definitely succeeded in moving me. I think as writers, we do share that common passion, to write about the hardships in life, to understand it, deal with it, etc. Many of my stories may be horror / mystery oriented, but they all come from deeper places inside, that I see in myself and in others.

  4. Thanks for tagging me. You know how much I love talking about myself.

    Kafka said that a book should act as an ax to the frozen sea within us. You're the kind of writer who understands this.

    That Anais Nin quote makes a lot of sense to me.

    I perceive narrative fiction much the way you do. It's a model of a world, an experimental self: such a person will do this in such a situation. In that sense it can also be a rehearsal. This kind of fiction can help us understand others, or it can help us imagine how we'd act in certain situations.

    And I feel sorry for people that don't know what the experience of what you call "the flow" is.

  5. "The flow."
    Stephen King described it as disappearing into a hole, I think; it's been a while, maybe I forget his term but I know you and he and Mark are referring to the same thing, that unbelievable void you disappear into when worlds appear through your fingertips.
    I love what you've written here... a little bit of insight into the mind of one of my favourite writers.
    Looking forward to seeing Mark, Alison and Michael's comments.

  6. And this is why you are such an important writer.

  7. The written word has always been kind to me.

    They settle more easily in my hands than my mouth and as such develop a cadence and rhythm that is far more congenial and evocative than I could ever be through the spoken word.

    Speech often betrays me.

    Intoning meaning where there is none or worse failing to convey that which is most important.

    My writing is never a two-faced Jezebel, she offers succor and solace no matter my mood and is there with or without her muse.

    I write because the words won’t stop coming.

    I pray they’ll never stop coming.

  8. Sorry I am late to the party - I have been doing more writing than reading of late - something that will be remedied soon!