Why Do We Do It?

Posted on 20 July 2010 Tuesday

Back when I was preparing my interview with Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Gbemi), toward the end of our exchange she mentioned that she was having a hard time writing. I thought a nice closing to the interview would be to ask her why she writes. It was a quick question and I thought I’d get a quick response, slap it on the interview and that would be it. Well, Gbemi took that simple question, prepared herself a nice tomato and rice sandwich and she sat down and she chewed on it.
I forgot I had asked the question but a response turned up in my mailbox a few days ago. It made me stop and pay attention to every word. In reading it, I knew that Gbemi will always write and I knew that she does so from a place so deep inside herself that her readers will always be given a special treasure.
And me? Well, clearly I’m not a writer. Many people (ok, a few people) tell me I should be but I don’t write for exactly the reasons that Gbemi does.
I told Gbemi that in reading what she wrote, I couldn’t help but think a little more deeply about this question which has become quite compelling for me: Am I able to do what I do in a way that others will also want to do it?
Right now, the beginning of school is so close that I can count the hours and minutes and it feels like a death sentence. It feels as if life as I know it will be over. I shouldn’t feel like that when returning to working with children! I could list reasons why I know it’s time to leave this school, but chief among them is the fact that I am not able to continuing doing what I love doing in a way that makes anyone else want to do it.
Ugh! this economy!
I can find reasons to enjoy, heck these days it is good just to have a job! There will be students who will read their first book this year because I put it into their hands and there will be those students who wonder in lost or looking for sanctuary and become one of my special students.
I can make it work, but I want to again be in a place where it comes natural. And oh, to feel like Gbemi does about what I am doing!
Please remember the following is not mine. It’s Gbemi’s. If you use any portion of it, remember to do so with her permission.

I write because I am unique, and I write because I’m not alone.
I write because I have something to say.

I write because Don Murray wrote that “the only truly failed draft is a blank page”, and I am NOT a blank page.

I write to “talk back”, to move, as bell hooks said, from “silence into speech”.

I write to speak first, because I believe that my multi-faceted, ever-changing, croaky,  tremulous, ear-splitting voice has value.

I write to create opportunities to listen. To step outside of myself and my affinities into unknown worlds and other people, to remind myself that it is more important for me to find their hearts than to find justification for my own feelings. I write to read.

I write to make meaning. To look and listen between the lines. I write to hear your stories.

I write to share, to teach, to learn. I write to think, and to think again. I write to ask questions, to deconstruct and reconstruct the worlds that I live in. I write to learn things about myself and others that I’d never know otherwise. I write because I may never get answers.

I write because our words are powerful, and our stories have strength. I write because I love stories.

I write because I have faith, and because I have doubts. I write because I adore the magic and the mysteries of life.  I write to remember, and I write to imagine.

I write to think about the unthinkable, to fathom the unfathomable, to knit up the gifts of life that I’m given, to unravel them again. I write to fray the edges, and to sew up the seams.

I write because I need to
because I want to
because I love to

I write because after I’ve finished this
and sent it off
and it’s posted
I will have discovered more reasons why I write,
reasons that I could only have seen by writing
in the first place.

I write because life is itchy
and mostly excruciating
and my shoe seems always on the ‘wrong’ foot

I write to find the joy beyond happiness
to revel in the stories, yours and mine, the stories of our lives together —

they’re beautiful.

Posted in: Ari, Authors