Why I Write: After The Usual “For Myself” Answer

Why I write rarely changes. My notebook is honest. Unflattering. Observant. Thoughtful. Sad. Desperate. Fun. Hopeful. Pleading. Knowing. Secure. Insecure. My notebook is instant reflection. I interrupt myself. I pour out. I am so fine with keeping a writing practice. I think I may be dead or unbelieving if not for a lined place to set ugliness and beauty side by side.

My writing practice is meditative but also generative.

I cried about generation on Thursday, to my husband. I want to know why I bother spending hours on stories and essays kept on this computer, occasionally shared with friends but largely unread. Sometimes there is no comfort saying I write for myself first. No comfort pretending the meditative or creative benefits of practice are their own end. No comfort acknowledging the necessary stretch of practice preceding good work.

I am not quitting my practice. But I’m asking why I write anything with the thought of a reader.

I heard back about two essays I submitted. Declined. This is fine. It’s what I expected. Not in a self-pitying way but because this world is full of writers, many better than myself. I am small. And I beg to know small is okay.

I have no conclusion.

When I sat down with my notebook on Thursday and again today to ask why I want readers – what am I supposed to say? I want the community of readership. I want to know I’m not alone. I want the performance of sharing art. I want validation. That’s it. I want readers to tell me I am not wasting my time revising four-year old drafts for the fifth time. I want readers to tell me they like me enough they want more, even if some of what I write is uncomfortable, unvarnished. Even if some of what I write lacks a tidy end.

I am not quitting this.

One day other readers I’m already writing for will find me and we won’t be so alone. Stick with me. Keep reading me. I’ll keep writing for you.

4 responses

  1. I identify so much with what you´ve written here. I find that keeping a notebook not only keeps me from giving up on my writing, and also it helps me feel more confident living abroad. I think my life would be less adventurous if I didn´t have a journal, because its where I deal with a lot of my fears and preoccupations.

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