From time to time, someone will ask a writer why they write. Sometimes it is a question with a barb, as in…Why do you bother to write? No-one is going to want to read it. Or a question with genuine incomprehension, as in…Why would anyone want to write when you can just watch the tele? But most times, it is a genuine question, requesting a genuine answer. An answer that is not always easy to give.
Having started up our writing group again after a longish break, I set that question, among others, as our first exercise. I sent out the Agenda: I always send out an Agenda. It gives me an air of being organised: of knowing what I am doing. So, this time, on the Agenda I asked our members to give some thought about a few important questions: questions I feel are as good a starting place as any to set the scene for a season of writing.
What have we been writing? What do we want to write? What stops us writing? What are we going to do about it? How can we help one another? Why do we write?
And I asked everyone: ‘Tell us your unique story about you as a writer.’
The results were amazing and very thought-provoking. One, in particular, I really wish I had written.
Does that ever happen to you? You read something that gets in about you: something powerful, that says exactly what needs to be said…and you wish you had been the one to say it.
I’m hoping you’ll get the chance to meet the writer of the following piece quite soon. I’ve invited her to join us by the fire for a bit of a chat, but she’s very shy and isn’t sure she can talk about herself and her writing. She has written this piece in third person, as you’ll see, because she found it hard to write something so personal for public perusal. I am indebted to you, Sharon, for permitting me to publish it here, on my blog.
Her Need To Write
Her writing started four years ago, born out of need. You see, she’d lost her real voice. Her voice had become wired to grief and fear. When she spoke her heart rate increased, her throat restricted and her eyes stung. Her real voice worried its listeners.
She began to write about her thoughts and feelings. They were all crammed inside her head and heart, jamming up her throat. She needed to scream them out without making a sound. Some of those thoughts she was supposed to stifle, to beat to nothing. Nobody wanted to hear them – they were dangerous, sometimes violent. She needed to silently unwrap them and lay them bare – black words on a clean, white page. She needed to stare them out, play with them, mix them up a bit, make some sense of them, then to leave them on the page to grow stale and mouldy. She wrote to diminish the resentment, disappointment and grief she’d felt.
Her other need to write? Well, it’s because she couldn’t remember who she was. She needed to write down some small memories before they disappeared. She needed to write, to paint the scenery in her mind, to gather the players, set her own stage and collect all the props. She needed to dim the lighting and turn on the spotlight, to start searching for her loves and hates, her memories and desires. She needed to write to gather together her own perfect words.