Why I Write


in the darkness...


the white lines
going by in flashes
my hand riding the waves
of warm summer air
out the window
music, softly, dreamily
reminding me of the past
and promising whispers
of the future
grass and earth -- fresh and raw -- hit my nose
the road is taking me somewhere
letting me zip past my life's
I turn
to see your eyes
on the road
but I know
you're with me
all the way
on the journey.

I am reminded of summer nights -- their dreamy quality -- wanting to capture a moment. Lately, I've been stressed. Sometimes life gets in the way of writing, especially when your world is turned upside down. This happened to me recently and gave me pause to reflect. Why do I write? Because I have to, because if I don't -- I'm not quite whole. If I don't, I find myself complaining to my husband that he needs to listen to me more. I find that listening requires a commitment. It requires time -- it requires that we create... a space... to listen. That we open to that space. Writing is listening to the wind, to the world, to that deepest part of ourselves. It often feels like standing on the edge of a precipice about to embark on a great adventure. For me, it never feels like staring into the abyss. Well, maybe on an act 2 rewrite. I think if you feel things deeply you have a need to express them. At least I do. If I don't do it, I get tangled up inside and then when I sit down at the keyboard, I'm rusty. It requires courage and strength to write because every moment you're asking yourself: is this effing worth it? Is this making any sense? Am I communicating that deeply felt moment of satori? Am I conveying the nuance of that gesture? Am I communicating the incredible anguish that my character is feeling? Am I inspiring the reader as I'm inspired by the smell of freshly cut grass on a summer night? Do you -- by reading this -- feel more alive? Because ultimately that's my goal as a writer -- to be more alive, to feel more alive, to embrace life, to give the big FU to the abyss, to the darkness, to the insanity that exists everywhere -- it seems -- right now in the world and say... I am creating this space. Right now. I am creating this moment in time. This beautiful wonderful moment in time. It matters. It matters more than anything. We matter. We beautiful, loving, wonderful human beings matter. Being alive, breathing, spinning, dancing, laughing, loving, fighting, screwing, breathing on this giant rock matters. Driving in the car at night and watching the palm fronds flap against the dark mysterious night and smelling summer -- this is being alive. This moment. I feel alive. I am alive. It's my Midwestern childhood, I can almost smell the lake... the mossy water of the lake... My childhood is as far away as Minnesota is from California -- more than 2000 miles -- in time mileage my childhood is probably more like 40,000 miles away from my present... but yet it's right here -- in my heart -- these touchstones, these memory spots -- that reach right up and grab me or whisper and say, "hey, remember who you are, remember." And I do. And I want to walk freely into my future. Free from regret, free from doubt, free from fear. I want to embrace the world and the now and the future -- knowing that I did my best -- that I tried, I gave a sh*t -- that -- Here I am. I am alive. All that I am I want to share with the world, I want to give to the world the best part of me. That is why I write.

This originally appeared on This (My) Writing Life.