"I write to make peace with the things I cannot control. I write to create fabric in a world that often appears black and white. I write to discover. I write to uncover… I write as a daily act of improvisation." So begins the list of mysterious, abiding, and beguiling forces that guide Terry Tempest Williams to her writing desk each day.
Dear Writers: Why do you write? Whether you're a prolific publisher or a guarded diarist, what compels you to shape your thoughts and feelings into written words? To tirelessly search for the right sound, the right sentence? To stare at a screen until your eyes go blurry? Or scrawl in a notebook until your hand cramps and spasms?
Every year, we ask you to consider this simple yet profound question, and this October, we're excited to participate in NCTE’s "National Day on Writing" celebration
. Your answers have read like poetry:
- I write so that I can be a reader and study myself through the description of an event. I write so that the significant moments I have lived don't dissipate into small dots on the timeline of my life. (nataliecassar)
- Writing forces me to look up at the world in order to jot down its being. I need to feel the grass between my toes in order to describe the way it makes my skin itch later. I need to go to a restaurant I’ve never sat down in and order the calamari so that I can convey my horror at the texture that greeted my mouth. We are often told to write what we know, and because of this I must storm into the world and live, if only for a little while. (Tiredwriter)
- I believe firmly that writing (for me) is my way of making a world that I want to live in. I think it's incredibly important to make your own ideas and visit them often. (Ethan Wasiejko)
- I started to write because I couldn't find any more books to satisfy my reading needs. I write because I like to give myself another life. I write to figure myself out. (Cheychey Hemingway)
- I write because it reminds me that the world is bigger than myself. I write because it humbles me to tell someone else’s story. I write because I discover things I never knew I could find. I write because thinking in poem stanzas has become a habit. I write because I don’t know how to stop. I write because I don’t want to stop. I write to find an outlet. I write to clear some space in my brimming, restless mind. I write to feel something. I write to understand the loud emotions I feel. I write to understand how the world can be so messy and beautiful. I write to understand how I can still be completely in love with it. (Sarah D)
So tell us, dear writers, what calls you
back to your writing desk again and again?
[Under “resources", you can find the rest of Williams’ marvelous piece—as well as one by Lee Martin, novelist extraordinaire, who offers these answers: "I write because I want to live in someone else’s life. I write because everyone’s a mystery, even me, and stories have the power to make us understand.”]