Three days ago was the National Day on Writing. I'm not entirely sure which nation the national bit referred to, but I decided to participate via Twitter by telling everyone in 140 characters or less why I write. The result:
Because stopping is akin to suffocation, and continuation is my truest expression of joy. #whyiwrite
Now, since 140 characters to describe a lifelong obsession (or passion, whichever implied level of sanity you prefer) leaves very little room for elaboration and I do, after all, have this lovely little blog, I thought I'd put this week's post to good use. :D
About a year ago, I received a tip saying that, if I really wanted to write things that mattered to me, I had to know why I was doing this crazy thing called writing. I pondered that, thinking about what it was about the call to create with words that my heart responded to so readily.
About a week later, I witnessed a conversation between a friend and her friend that amounted to little more than a war with words. Everything they said to each other was designed to hurt, to pierce, to destroy. Being a writer, I love language, using it effectively and with style, bringing new meaning and new perspectives to others. When someone uses a phrase unfamiliar to me; it excites me. When someone places words in an order that makes them sing; it thrills me. Words have such a power for good, because they not only create, but invite the audience to create with them. They are healers, encouragers, inspiration and innovation, full of breath and endless possibilities. When I heard the war, I heard a symphony used for genocide. The tools of life bent on murder. Reeling in the aftermath, I tried to focus my thoughts and emotions, tried to say what I wanted to scream, and ended up writing four paragraphs of poetic prose (poetic voice in the form of prose).
Then I realized that what I had written described why it is that I write:
Angry words are steel swords aiming to rip hearts out and leave the whole bloody mess on display, dripping. Watch the war begin... or choose to hold your fury mute when your passions threaten to kill, maim and destroy. The calm mind reasons, the raging mind disembowels. Hurt blossoms at the fingers of a wrathful heart. Pain births its children in the abused and abusers.
Life and death lie as choices on the hands of everyone rearing for expression. Death has showy advertisement, an established track record, an award for the path of least resistance. Its fans and followers hold the megaphone of quick success to their lips, while the jaws of their master tighten unnoticed around their waists. Promises of the distraction of cacophony, the security of chaos and the assurance of everlasting invalidity assault the senses. Is it simpler, then, to drown in the sea of perceptions?
Wait a moment, then watch the winter fall as the volcanic power ebbs. Ash catches in the hair, the mouth, the breath. No healing, like that of the clean snow, is found in the mountain's excrement. A ruined island stands, disconnected from the world, sullen in its cover of failure. Its land may become fertile, but not if the volcano remains active, for the skies will remain blackened with clouds of soot that can neither rain nor dissipate.
'Come to me,' whispers life. 'Come. Bring your sorrows, your detached, bleeding heart, your blackened life and watch. Allow a single drop of rain to fall on your dying skin. Cup the leaves of the one seedling in your hands and whisper songs to it. Calm the force behind your violence. Build the dreams and visions of yourself and the ones around you and strengthen the foundations of the architecture of wonder. You will turn around to see beauty already emerged and flowering. Come. Choose me and your world will burst into green.'
When I write, I choose life. I take what people have used as weapons and offer healing. Instead of telling people that they are detestable, I want to show them how they are wonderful. With these tools, I want to create things that add to the beautiful things in the world, like laughter and adventure. Even if I fail miserably, I want to at least try to show people that, just because darkness exists, it doesn't mean that it overshadows the light. It's probably the most preposterous and presumptuous goal I have, but it's mine, and it's as necessary to me as breathing.
This is why I write.