Why do I write? The first words that come to mind are “to save my life” by which I mean that I write to record my life, to witness my life.
Why do I write? I remember one of the first times I seriously engaged with personal, creative writing. I was in my late 20s/early 30s. I had done lots of journal writing, quick scribbles of poetry, but had never worked any of these quick writes through to a more finished state. I had also been going through a tough patch emotionally, which gave me much fodder for the journal writing. I showed a friend one of my journal entries and she thought it read like poetry.
I took another look at the words that I’d written so quickly, with such heat, and then dug into them and applied form. I wrote a poem that felt like something I could share with the world. I still remember sitting at my friend’s dining table, my journal and a pad of paper in front of me, writing a draft, crossing out, refining, shaping—the initial outpouring and then the application of craft, the polishing, the tending. I was lost in the creativity, “I” was lost and then found again, reshaped.
Why do I write? There was a time when I played with making wheel-thrown pots, kneading the clay to prepare it, placing a hunk on the wheel, centering, then opening it up, drawing up the walls. I had to learn when to stop, before the pot caved in on itself; learn the just right point to still the wheel, cut the pot off, and place it gently on a shelf to dry. Many of the bowls and cups and plates I made were clunky things that have since gone in the trash but a few survived and I use them regularly, their shape satisfying in my hands, pleasing to my eyes.
Why do I write? I take what’s in my mind, my heart, I center it, and work it, and hope I know when to say “this is good enough” and then cherish the result, hold it in my hands, offer it to the world, hope that others find it both pleasing and useful. This is a piece of me, this felt the touch of my fingers, the kiss of my mind, the whisper of my voice, this is a moment as I lived it. Maybe it will shine light on the moments you live.
Lynn Bechtel is a writer, editor, gardener, reader, occasional knitter, and novice meditator. She grew up in Ohio but have lived in Massachusetts for most of her adult life. She writes essays and short stories and blogs at www.athomeharlow.com.