Why I Write

In response to Terry Tempest Williams essay by the same name.

There was a time in my life when I tried to fill in the blankness with other art forms--photography and scrapbooking, calligraphy and lettering, a little graphic design, or the simplest of artistic prospects, like creative chore charts for my children. My practical, perfectionist side took over and muted my words, my pen, my urge to write. There seemed no specific purpose in pouring out poetry while swallowing wine, or a cold brew late at night. Years past and my happiness subsided; I felt incomplete, lacking, and sullen. Nothing was filling in the blank. Then I heard about a local poetry event, a poetry slam at a bookstore. I went. I never looked back. I had to learn the hard way why I write.

I write because I am selfish-- a selfish poet. I write so the words will soothe my head. I write so monologue can escape. I write to serve my mind its medicine, dribbling it out like moldy penicillin that I drink up when my throat goes dry. I write to create a vaccine for sadness and insanity, like heart heroine. I write, not to print or publish, but as a passion placeholder; not meant to impress, not meant to be permanent. I write to recycle memories, damaged and raw, unrefined cud of thought. I write to force it up and spit it out. I write to remember, to form a poetry blanket of brain insulation, a cushion from the cold. I write to extract the byproducts of being, biodegradable and organic, like the warmth of childhood grilled cheese and tomato soup. I write to indulge in crucial comfort food, to fatten up after a poetry fast.

I write for me. I write because there is something intensely ironic and humane about being human. I write to lift up the heaviness of tangibility, to keep my thoughts light and my breathing deep. I write for my children, to show them that being selfish has a place and makes you more accessible to those you love. I write to uncover sympathy and turn it over, to expose the soft belly of empathy, to peel away layers of hardness, and to be someone's friend when they need me. I write to relieve the busy-ness behind my eyes, the thoughts that keep me awake when I should be sleepy, and the unsettled havoc of the work week.

I write from gray, from the edges of blackness and whiteness. I write to interpret the static, the noise, the many alternate voices. I write to establish a persona, to determine my roles and how each role alters others. I write to find the mother, wife, daughter, sister, student, friend, and poet wandering within. I write as a woman, as an aspiring artist, as an extension of myself. I write out of necessity, out of bursting urges. I write with determination and courage. I write bravely, when all else is quiet, shy, and scared. I write to share secrets and solve mysteries. I write for relief. I write to fill in the blankness.