Saturday, January 19, 2008

Why I Write

A few possible reasons

So I won't run away from home
Run over a pedestrian for not using the crosswalk
Write my son’s college essay although he would never use it
Throw away my children’s stuffed animals which somehow multiply while we sleep.

Before I could write, I drew the images in my head and projected them onto bare walls. Typically stories concerning young girls my age being abducted by the neighborhood psycho (he was usually missing fingers.) The girls always managed to be saved by some magical power they discovered in the nick of time.
I needed to get the images out so I could function in the real world
My toddler stories sometimes involved Jesus Christ being attacked by Godzilla and often I was the heroine who not only could fly but conquer the beast and save Jesus.
I graduated to drawing these images out onto paper, stacks by the hundreds hidden under my bed.
When I learned to write, they became actual stories with more lifelike situations, but not less drama.

My head is abuzz with characters, situations, tragedies ready to unfold. The characters wake me up, yell at me, demanding to be heard. I sometimes yell back. I talk to myself a lot and mostly my family does not mind.
If I don’t write it down, it works me over in the way of physical pain, say, a migraine.
It’s a place to put my many personalities which seems to be multiplying at an alarming rate; kind of like the stuffed animals.

Prose is my first love, though I can whip out a half hour during a bad insomniac episode when I am feeling particularly homicidal.
I’m reckless and if it weren’t for this outlet, it’s quite possible I would weigh 500 pounds.

I don’t write to change the world, make an impact or to entertain. I can’t imagine being that presumptuous. But I do love when someone tells me how they laughed or were moved or related.

Sometimes I don’t even know why I write. I find myself in front of a computer and eight hours later I realize I’m starving and dehydrated. No other thing I do transports me this way and makes time disappear; with the exception of one mescaline trip I took as a teenager where the morning became the night in five minutes.

I love words; I don’t care what form. I devour books alcoholically. Once I couldn’t read or write because of eye surgery and I nearly lost my mind. I scared the other recovering patients on the ward by bumping into walls, then coming into their rooms unannounced to ask what they were reading. Would they mind sharing a paragraph; an anecdote; anything.

I don’t think I am alone. Writers are an odd breed. Most of them understand it’s a curse and a blessing. Most of them live in pain. Which is why I find it so profoundly sad that on top of their own self-incrimination, heaps more are laid on them by the corporations they rely on to possibly get paid for what they need to do.

Artists, in some ways, are like children. They depend on “adults” to take care of their needs, in this case, financial ones. Once certain writers gain a level of achievement they can finally sigh a breath of relief, though often short-lived, but, hey, they will take it.

But just like children, they bring a kind of joy to others that is can’t be found elsewhere. A world without writers reminds me of what it might be like to have a world without children. Joyless, predictable, boring, lonely, and quiet.

Sometimes I envision these greedy corporate heavies hoarding their residual pennies like mean teachers hoarding recess candy who sincerely believe if they stay mean, the children will behave. Well, they don’t behave. They get resentful and find other sources for their candy.