Monday, January 7, 2008

Not a manifesto

I wrote this some time ago for a writing class. While I still stand by it, I might write it differently today, but I think it's an interesting exercise, looking at where I was almost a year ago.

It's something to consider, why we do the things we do...

Why I Write

Because I can’t not write. When words come tumbling out of me in a frantic rush, a great tsunami that threatens to overwhelm me in its intensity, for that while nothing else exists. There are no politics with their attendant fears and disempowerments, no bills to be paid and appointments to be kept, there are no obligations of love or worry, just words that rush forth as though I am the source of a river and for one tiny moment am touching what it might be like to be immortal, even if unknown.

I write because I am hungry for words, for their beauty and coy intimacies. By writing and crafting language I can leap and dance along invisible wires and see how far I can stretch my own boundaries, challenge myself and become a little braver than I was before I wrote. I can play with language, break it apart and reconstruct it, and am often surprised by what I find.

When I write I find undiscovered countries within myself. Writing allows me to explore new territory that I might not be able to look at directly; it helps me understand my own heart. Writing allows me to chart the ebb and flow of my own life amidst all other lives. Writing is the secret cartography of what it is to be human.

When I write I understand the world just a little bit more, in all its beauty and heartache and ironies and small glories and mystery. Writing helps me understand my place in it and feel that much less alone. For all that writing is a solitary act, when I write I am one of thousands driven by language, knowing the quest for the right word, the turn of phrase that will capture the shimmer of wine in the grail such that you taste it without ever looking up from the page.

I write because I believe that story has the power to break down barriers of country and creed, that the stories we tell have the power to make us pause before we strike and sometimes listen to each other just a little more closely. When I write I send out a raven to explore the great floodplains and see if there is anyone to hear me. When my ravenous words don’t return I know they might have found new roosts and the world is a less hostile place.

I write because it gives me a window into new worlds. I love the unexpected directions stories and characters will take; the sheer sensual click of fingers on keys, pen scratching on paper; the subtle connection between writer and reader; the commonality of human spirit we find in stories well told. I write because the world is highly subjective, and this is one way I can share my world, just as when I read, I share the author’s world. I write because the world is not perfect and in story I can at least change the imperfections, rewrite, try again. I write the same way I drink cool water – because without stories I would dry up and die.

I write because I have to, because the world is so big and I am so very small. It is a way of saying, “Here I am, in this moment, on this page. Read me. And then tell me your story. Let us listen to each other.”

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License
True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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