On Writing: Why Do You Write?

Photo by Clark Young

I don’t know that I answered the question why do I write.

Why do I write?

Do I write because I want people to “hear” what I have to say?

Do I write to impress others?

Do I write to impress others with my talent, gift, skill, knowledge, need, neuroses, desire?

Why do I write? Why do you write, Will? Why?

What made me write that poem when I was fifteen and people still called me Willy? What made me keep that piece of paper with a poem written on it for forty-seven years when I’ve thrown away so much of what I’ve accumulated over the years?

Why did I not write again for thirty-eight years, until my sister died, and my hair turned grey, and crows feet radiated from my eyes and I penned that screed against alcoholism and random drug use and against Marianne for ruining her life and impacting so many other lives and mine too?

Where did the impulse to write originate?

Did it originate from a desire to write like Asimov, Heinlein, Hemingway? What about Fitzgerald? Is not The Great Gatsby my favorite novel?

Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why do I write? Why? Why? Why?

Why?

I write because I don’t want to die alone?
I write because I don’t want to be forgotten?
I write because I want to be remembered for something?
I write because I want to leave something behind.
I write so my life cannot be said to have been pathetic.
I write so that my life cannot be said to have been average.

I write so that my sweat and love and joy and unhappiness and sorrow and tears and laughter and belly laughs and humor and anger and hate and jealousy and envy and pride and shyness and embarrassments and failure upon failure upon failure and successes and fear of discovery and poverty of heart and soul and disillusionment and quitting and promises and broken promises and cheating and stealing and thieving and lying and self-hate and self-mistrust and self-loathing and frustration were not in vain!

I write because I need to.
I write because I am impelled to write.

Because I am impelled by some force beyond my control. A force I do not understand. A force I cannot fathom with this feeble mind. It came to me one day and it moved me. It moved me and it forced me to take up pen and I obeyed because I had to and I took up pen and I took up paper and I wrote. Because I had to. Because I needed to. I write because an irresistible force impressed me with an irresistible need to write. Not a desire. A need. I need to write. If only for myself, I need to write.

No. No.

No. I need to write for others. I need for others to read what I write. I need their approbation. Their approval. Their applause. Their understanding. Their sympathy. Their tears. Their laughter. Their remembering.

Their remembering.

Don’t forget me. Remember me. Remember my words, my work, my effort, my labor, my love, my sweat, my tears, my inkwell, my reams of paper, my joy, my sorrow. Remember my stories, my poems, my invented lives and lovers, my worlds, my worlds, don’t forget my worlds. I dreamed them, I invented them, I created them on paper and blew my life into them, I gave them life, and I gave them everything I had and love and hate and anger and happiness and joy.

Yes. I write because I need to and I want to and it feels right.

I read and I read and I read and I read and everything I read led me to this point and the irresistible force said now it is time. Write. Write. We gave you the words the skill and now the impulse, the desire. You must write.

I write so someone someday may read what I wrote and say “What a good man. What a flawed man. Who was he? Why did he write? I must find out more about him.”

I want to leave something behind. I want to be remembered.

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