Remembering Why I Write


Writing is akin to mental wrestling. Anguishing over word choice. Vicariously walking through scenes, only to backtrack through various doors and experience multiple shifts in the storyline. There are intermittent bursts of inspiration that shower the pages with words and dialogue, much of which will be erased in the days to come. Writing is heart-wrenching, exhilarating, draining, and empowering. It provides a greater rush than being embroiled in a high-intensity athletic competition.

I love that sensation. I love the struggle. I love the journey.

Whether writing to model the process for my students; to share stories or reflections with friends and colleagues through my blog; or constructing my next novel; I love to write.

My first book took flight several months ago, and has since landed in homes, hands, and hearts at various locations around the map. From time to time, someone lets me know that they are currently reading it, or that it has climbed its’ way into the pecking order of books piled on their nightstand.

While my work rests in that pile, wedged between the lauded titles of acclaimed authors and the prolifically published; waiting for its’ pages of to be caressed and cradled, I notice that my identity switches imperceptibly from that of a writer, to one who has written. I transition from sportsman to spectator. From the story-lines, to the sidelines.

Instead of enjoying the creatively maddening process of writing, I find my thoughts drifting; wondering if my readers are enjoying the story. I worry if they are actively engaged in the drama unfolding, or if my book idles jealously while the tv and social media flirt for my reader’s attention. I begin longing for positive feedback. I meander to the usual online places, checking for comments, ratings, or reviews. Like others who have laid their stories bare, I want readers to like my writing. Why wouldn’t I? I agonized to choose the specific words, to organize my thoughts, to select the phrasing. I hope that the effort made a difference.

But if I’m not careful, I can get anxious when I focus on their feedback. If I don’t catch myself, I can forget why I wrote in the first place. In the passivity of wanting a reader’s adulation, I unwittingly forfeit the passion and purpose that originally ignited my writing.

My passion gets sapped because I forgot my purpose for writing.

Let me be blunt. I don’t write for you to like what I say. I’ll lose my marbles if I do. As a reader, I know we are all fickle. I write because I have a message that has to be shared, whether you like it or not. I write because deep within me there is a yearning to process my colliding thoughts. I write because, even if nobody is listening, my voice longs to call out from the hilltops.

This longing, determined voice is why I write.

Of course, I hope my words help you. I desperately desire for them to be a blessing, perhaps knowing that there must be somebody else on this spinning sphere that relates to my journey, and that possibly today, my words will assist them in some small way.