This is a popular question to ask writers, especially by people who have itchy fingers, longing to write but have yet to make that leap into an intense relationship with words.
Some writers may write for fame and fortune – or the dream of fame and fortune. Some writers write because they believe in their talent for writing. I write for a variety of reasons, most importantly perhaps is that writing is like breath to me. If I don’t write, I wither up and fade away.
A significant reason I write is for connection and conversation. I love connecting with readers right now and in the future. Yesterday Emma, my fourteen-year-old talked in class about me writing a story for Chicken Soup for the American Soul after 9/11.
“Oh, my writing in there from ten years ago embarrasses me! The message still pleases me but oh… my writing was flat out sad.” Yet that piece got compliments when I shared it on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. An important story was written in those “I-know-find-unpolished” words.
It does connect me to many, though and has connected others with me.
Would you like to know another way this happens for me, as both a writer and a person?
This morning I was up very early: I had some couch surfers overnight who were driving through Bakersfield en route to Big Sur. They left early, excited for the coast, and I stayed awake after I wished them well. I sat on my porch and wrote and read and wrote and smiled and breathed gently in and out and in.
My favorite moments were connection with another writer. It wasn’t just reading – it was connecting.
This reminded me why I love to write: I write for connection both with my present and with the future. One of my most vital visualizations is seeing people sitting in parks reading my book because they love it so much, they combine it with their experiences in the outdoors.
When William Bartram wrote of the charming doves he encountered on his journey in North Carolina, ”remarkably beautiful and their soft and plaintive cooing perfectly enchanting” and of the finches he encountered, “exceeded by none in his feathered tribe, either in variety and splendor of dress or melody of song” I doubt he was thinking of a woman in California sitting on her front porch reading and giggling as I did. I was nodding my head, looking out over my mourning dove friends, seeing in my mind’s eye the neighborhood finches, bright red, orange and black.
Bartram was writing in 1773. California’s existence wasn’t even a flicker of the candlelight he wrote by at night.
The editor of the collection where Bartram’s work appeared, John Kieran, wrote a postscript on the end of his forward which delighted me. He wrote: “The insertion of verse in this volume is all my fault. I am incorrigibly fond of poetry.” I did the tiniest bit of research to discover that, like me, Kieran is a naturalist with an advanced degree from the University of Wonder and Curiosity. He was a television personality, a sports journalist and radio broadcaster and regular on early quiz shows.
After his death, the New York City Parks Department opened The John Kieran Nature Trail most likely due to his contribution to the city via his famous book, The Natural History of New York City. The trail is in the Bronx, one Kieran once walked regularly.
Today I made two new friends, both of whom are dead. Neither of whom are women, the gender of writers I normally seek out to read and write about regularly.
I was reminded of several things here and hope you will listen and see how my awareness connects with anything percolating in your experience.
- I was open to reading something different than I would normally read.
- I spent time being with the connections: the doves, the finches, the “incorrible fondness” for poetry. I didn't shrug off and rush to my next thing.
- I allowed my curiosity the space to find out more.
- I passed my wonder along, to you, inviting you to spend time outdoors today and perhaps explore your world even the tiniest bit differently.
- I write because I love to continually challenge myself to learn more, to grow more and to pass along my passion for growing, writing and becoming who we are meant to be.
“Why do you write?”
I write the world enough to know my words are meant to be read by someone besides me. Even if my audience is one person – you – I have done good work by following the call to put these words on paper and send them to you.
I write because I love.
Enough about me, tell me now, why do you write?
Top Photo: Creative Commons License
- Some rights reserved byEndemoniada
- © 2012 by Julie Jordan Scott
Julie Jordan Scott has been a Life & Creativity Coach, Writer, Facilitator and Teleclass Leader since 1999. She is also an award winning Actor, Director, Artist and Mother Extraordinaire. She was twice the StoryTelling Slam champion in Bakersfield. She teaches a teleclass/ecourse "Discover the Power of Writing & Telling Engaging, Enlightening Stories" which begins again April 24, 2012. Find details by clicking this link.
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