One of my closest friends is a musician. He is the best bass player in the world, and he plays other weird and wonderful instruments too ( trumpet marine and yayli tanbur amongst many). Anyway, we were discussing why he feels that he has to make music and I feel I have to write. I said that it was our way of communicating with the world, but he disputed that saying that his music is often inaccessible, and he has no clue that he is trying to say anything at all. This actually chimed as truth with me as well. So, I pondered, and then replied:
Well, I have pondered this question before, and arrived at a rather simple answer. I write because I am compelled to do so. So, I write because if I don’t I do not feel right. I don’t enjoy writing, it’s like (massive cliché alert) blood from a stone at times. I am frequently disgusted by how inept I am at it. I realised long ago how much simpler and easier my life would be if I did not do it. Sheez, the time I would have to read and relax and do the housework and shop and watch films and talk to people without having to SQUISH everything so that I can sit and put words down. It’s a form of torture, this writing business. And I don’t write primarily for others to read it, but now I’m dipping a toe in the business, and hell yeah, I want some of that for me. I want to be a respected author. Dammit, I want recognition for being a good writer. However, I can equally see a time when I take said toe out of the water, and just write for me, but I know I will write for the duration of my life, in order to feel creatively balanced I guess.
Sometimes though it’s as if a magical process takes part. The words don’t feel like they belong to me. Perhaps I am merely a cipher for them. And when I have written something I consider good, the buzz is as good as it gets. Striving to be better, more proficient, working hard is all its own reward, it improves my writing, allowing me to be more accurate with the words I put down.
You know how religious people talk about folk being ‘blessed with a talent’, well, I think that talents come alongside having different coloured eyes, hair, intelligence, understanding, personalities. There’s a bit in me that is a writerly bit, a bit in him that is a music bit, a bit in my mum that is a gardening bit and so on. Everyone has a ‘thing’. This is mine. And I think that in order to be balanced we need to pay attention to our ‘thing’.
When I didn’t write I still created the words and stories in my head, I turn everything into fiction. When my friend was unable to play music he created pieces in his mind.
It’s not how we communicate with the world after all, rather it is how we translate the world.
Clearly this is my eureka moment! That rings so loud and true with me! Hurrah!
Me writing my words is me responding to the world around me. And it may not make sense, it may not mean anything to anyone else, indeed it may be totally misunderstood, but that’s not the point. The alchemy of the words, or the music, is the wonder of creativity sated, and a world interpreted.
3 thoughts on “Why I write.”
Sounds familiar. When people ask me why I write I tell them it’s because I can’t not write. To my mind writing is as necessary as breathing and breathing can be hard, (trust me I’m an asthmatic, I know about these things) but, for all it’s hard at times, I would never want not to breathe. I’ve always thought that it must be cool to be a composer or and artist. They just sit down and start and they don’t have any of these uncooperative words to contend with. I never write for anyone other that me; you can’t. That said other people have loved my work; you can never discount reader input and timing. I posted this poem on Zoetrope a few years ago and one of the writers there printed it out and pinned it to his notice board beside his desk because, for him at least, it made perfect sense, it expresses exactly how he feels about his writing.The Art of Breathing To find room for the newyou have to let go of the oldso to learn how to writeI had to forget how to breatheand for a time I thoughtI had to write to keep breathingwhich makes such perfect sensebut only if you’re apoet.20 November 1997Am I a talented writer? Yes. That might sound like arrogance but I’ve been writing for thirty-five years; it’s hard to ignore the evidence. I knew I was talented when I was a teenager though. Back then I was arrogant but not so arrogant that I wasn’t willing to study and practice and develop that talent. Talent is only the starting point, like intelligence, it’s what you do with it.
Thanks for your comments Jim. You are right, talent is only the starting point. I have some talent and I have decided to push at this, to try to work at it, and soak up knowledge and keep on, even though it is tough. It is also, sometimes, rewarding and wonderful.Cool poem.
Missed this post, Sara, sorry. You say some very good thought-provoking things here.I love the idea of a creative artist (in any sphere) translating the world rather than communicating it.Not sure I agree with all that jim murdoch says (hello Jim)… because there are thousands upon thousands of writers who write purely for other people. Not just journalists… anyone who finds a ‘formula’ and then mil;ks it could be said to be doing just that.And whether your medium is music, paint, stone or words, seeking to translating the world is an amazing journey that requires amazing gifts, including the humilty to understand that we aint good and perfect, none of us. And God forbid I should ever be! Thatt’s the day I will stop discovering, stop learning. And may as well shut up shop.Stick with it, Sara. You have a gift, but sometimes it hurts to use it.