We write because we have to

(I’ve been doing some tidying on the desk, sorting through the mountain of paper erroneously referred to as my ‘filing’ and came across a scrappy notebook with a few pieces written down in it. I wrote this one with a mind to blog it but, well, it got ‘filed’ hence you not seeing it till now four months later. This is by way of explanation for the screwy time references as the party in question was actually back in August).

I’m not sure why, but this weekend talking to family and friends of the family at E’s party made me realize quite why I like writing so much. Perhaps it is because I had to explain my choice of publishing about ten times (once to a drunken Punjabi physiologist who’s determined to get me to India to find me a husband – long story).

This is going to sound trite and I’m not sure if I would have come up with it if I hadn’t been two sheets to the wind on some very fine chardonnay myself, but my reasoning was as follows –

I love the power of the written word. I love how two people with nothing in common can read something and it build a bridge between them. I love how twenty people can read something and each one take away a uniquely personal and different reading. I love how it can get people talking.

At the very root, perhaps this is most important to me, Good writing can start dialogue. I’d much rather people sat down and talked through differences than need to solve them at the point of a gun. Violence is abhorent to me – conversation really is the best solution.

I’m not saying every written thing does this – but the potential is there. People have been trying to persuade others with letters and writing since the beginning. One (or quite likely more) of the apostles wrote letters to assorted people to persuade them to be nice to each other. *1* People write to their MP and they write letters to the Editor. They sign petitions.

Books can carry information to those who didn’t initially have it. Writing can set you free. You learn about new ways of looking at things. You break down barriers.

That potential, that power for good and for connection, that’s why I want to work with the written word.

A quote from W. Somerset Maugham I came across recently seems an appropriate way of finishing off:

We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.

*1* Yes, I know I’m being vague. But it’s been a long time since Sunday School and I don’t keep a copy of the Bible on my bookshelves any more.

One thought on “We write because we have to

  1. This is so true. Even when I think I have nothing to say, I still have things to write.

    And the wierdest thing about writing is that sometimes, I don’t even know what I’m going to write until it come out on paper (or on screen). I mean, sure, I have a vague idea of the direction I want to go in, but I don’t think up every sentence word for word before I write it. They just come.

    And I think that’s really why we write. To see what comes out of us.

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