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June 6: D-Day Post–Why I Write

June 6, 2015

My favorite part of this first week’s reading and consideration was the question about why I write. Since the kind of writing I do varies so widely, from poetry to prose, from memoir to essay, letters to journals, I admit I could answer yes to many of the questions.

I know I write to make sense of my world. Not only do I like to commit to writing the stories I have heard in my home and from my family, fearing otherwise it might be lost, but I also want to write about what’s happening now. From my earliest memories of writing, I wrote letters. I figured out early on that letter writing is never fifty-fifty. I write because I have something to say—often a story to tell. I don’t keep score on responses. I don’t have to wait for a reply before I write another letter.

Even when I do something worthy of ridicule, I soften the blow by turning it into a funny story, with me as the butt of the joke. I realize what a trail I’ve left. If by some odd chance historians needed to trace the events of my life, it would be simple. They could track down the letters I’ve written. (The other half of those conversations, boxes and boxes of correspondence I’ve treasure, can be found in my attic.)

I remember hearing Kaye Gibbons talking about one book she wrote (and I’m having to look through my shelf to recall the particular title) in which the mother was suffering from bipolar disorder, as did Gibbons’ mother. She said the novel gave her a chance to let the mother get well.

My poems let me try out different points of view, casting my own stories in third person, or choosing first person to climb into the skin of others, as I did in many of the poems in my chapbook Let the Lady Speak. I’ve especially enjoyed using poetic license and primary research to fill in the holes in the lives of my grandparents and great grandparents.

Overall, writing gives me a chance to hear myself think. I can put aside what I’ve written and return later to be surprised by what I find. My goal in the next two months is to narrow my focus a little, to choose what kind of writing I want to accomplish now. I look forward to sharing it here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. kathy permalink
    June 8, 2015 11:26 pm

    I love your statement “overall, writing gives me a chance to hear myself think” THAT is exactly why I write, or journal. I couldn’t have said it better.

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