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I write because. . .

Posted on Jun 24, 2007 by

For me, part of the process of revision—in this case, looking again at One Year of Writing and Healing—has been going back to the basics and beginning (again) to ask myself some very basic questions: Now, why again am I doing this site? What have I done so far? What do I want it to become? What might I want a second year of writing and healing to look like?

And, in the middle of this process, I was inspired by Sharon Bray to ask an even more basic question: Why do I write?

Her question inspired me to do a search on “I write because. . .” and then to make a page of quotes of writers who have responded to that question. I made the page and brought it into a writing workshop at Cancer Services that is just forming, and I can tell you that the words carry even more resonance when read aloud. That’s what we did. We just went around the circle and took turns reading the lines aloud: I write because. . .

It was a bit like reading poetry aloud. For me the words became more powerful and clearer as I heard them read. They became more alive. Hearing them aloud—particularly in different voices—it became easier to hear which lines carried a particular resonance–which lines struck a chord.

Here are the lines we read. (Can you hear us reading them?):

I am going to write because I cannot help it.
—Charlotte Bronte

I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still.
—-Sylvia Plath

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means, what I want, and what I fear.
—-Joan Didion

I write because I want more than one life.
—Anne Tyler

I write because it gives me the greatest possible artistic pleasure to write.
—Oscar Wilde

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.
—Flannery O’Connor

And, from Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

I write because I have an innate need to write.

I write because I want to read books like the ones I write.

I write because I love sitting in a room all day writing.

I write because I want others, the whole world, to know what sort of life we lived, and continue to live, in Istanbul, in Turkey.

I write because I love the smell of paper, pen, and ink.

I write because it is a habit, a passion.

I write because I am afraid of being forgotten.

I write to be alone.

I write because I like to be read.

I write because once I have begun a novel, an essay, a page I want to finish it.

I write because it is exciting to turn all life’s beauties and riches into words.

I write to be happy.