“Writing has tremendous energy. If you find a reason for it, any reason, it seems that ratherthan negate the act of writing, it makes you burn deeer and clearer on the pae. Ask yourself, ‘Why do I write?’ or ‘Why do I want to write?,’ but don’t think about it. Take pen and paper and answer it with clear, assertive statements. Every sentence doesn’t have to beone hundred percent true and each line can contradict the others. Even lie if you need to, to get going. If you don’t know why you write, answer it as though you do know why.”
Natalie Goldman, from Writing Down the Bones
Interesting exercise, isn’t it? Something we might all tackle just for the fun of it, in order to see what pops out. To whet your appetite, here area few snatches of Natalie’s own musings, captured in a cafe one April morning:
“Why do I write? I write because I kept my mouth shut all my life and the secret ego truth is I want to live eternally and I want my people to live forever. I hurt at our impermanence, at the passing of time….
“I write because I am alone and move through the world aloe.No one will know what has passed through me, and even more amazing, I don’t know. Now that it’s spring I can’t remember what it felt like to be in forty below….
“I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, and because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life. I write because to form a word with your lips and tongue to think a thing and then dare to write it doen so you can never take it back is the most powerful thing I know. I am trying to come alive…”
Natalie had a lot more to say about this and so do we, I know. But in the end, as she so wisely observes, the answers we come up with matter, but not really all that much. As she puts it, “When the old nag in you comes around with ‘Why are you wasting your time? Why do yo write?,’ just dive onto the page, be full of answers but don’t justify yourself. You do it because you do it. You do it because you want to improve your handwriting, because you’re an idiot, because you’re mad for the smell of paper.”
So let’s not worry too much about the why. Let’s just harness that tremendous energy in all of us and let they why take care of itself. Write on!
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