Why Write?

I’m taking a class this term with OLLI – “Writing Our Lives.” One of the questions posed in the reference book we use for the class (The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing, Sharon M. Lippincott) is “Why are you writing?” Obviously there is no right answer to this question. But, it caused me to struggle a bit as I reflected on the “Why?”

My writing is not to tell my story for my children and grandchildren. If they find my writing interesting, that is wonderful. But, I write to tell my story to myself.  I write to sort my memories which are dominated by the emotions of the moment/event instead of objective observances. Often, I can recall how I felt, but not what caused me to laugh or cry. This is strange, since I overtly make decisions by thinking through things. This is not so strange when I recall that big decisions are made based on my gut.

Writing is a way to walk back through a memory and put flesh on it. Writing forces me to not just have an emotional response, but to sit with it and hear what that emotion is telling me. It might be telling me about myself or about another person. If I remember fear, writing about it helps me to sort through what made me afraid [or sad, happy, content] and learn not only what I fear, but why. Writing is helpful because it helps me to name my fears and joys and sorrows. And, if have found that in real life, just as in magic and fantasy and folklore, if you can name something, it loses a lot of it’s control over you.

I suspect that the unpronounceable name of God, YWHW (or whatever those letters were) was affirmation of the fact that we can never truly name or tame God. We can however name and take some control over other things and relationships in our lives. Writing is my way of doing that.