There's a "challenge" happening on the Instagram this month in preparation for National Novel Writing Month which yes, is in November, and yes, October would make more sense as a "gearing up to write" month but ain't nobody tryin'a compete with Inktober, yo. Least of all ME, who maybe isn't the best at turning lines and dots into anything ... recognizable.
Anyway. Instawrimo is a series of daily challenges - a before selfie, an inspiring quote, etc. Day 4 (that's today, for those keeping track) asked the question: "Why Do You Write?" My answer is in that super-artsy image at the top, but that's the edited version. I edit a LOT. Sometimes it feels like that's all I ever do, because I've been getting three books ready for publication this year. (Book 3 is due out the first week in January 2019.) So while I am pleased with the "Why I Write" edit, I wanted to honor the words it took to get there.
I write because I am an artist, and because I am a magician. I paint exquisite, elaborate pictures in your minds using your own imagination as my paint and your experiences as my canvas, and I do it across time and distance with ease. I direct theater in your minds with a cast you create. Words are everything and words are nothing, and some words in their absence say even more. Words are both curse and cure, words are sedatives and aphrodisiacs and an escape into the familiar we might never have known. I write because naming is power, because there is truth in fiction. (Anyone who tells you differently isn’t reading it right.) I write because stories light the way in dark places when all other lights have gone out.
Like Hamilton, too, I write my way out. I wrote my way out of an elementary school I didn’t fit in to with the help of a teacher who placed high value on words, and context, and storytelling - he gave me a love of vocabulary that has never faded, began my understanding of the differences between waiting and longing and anticipating. I wrote my way through high school and college on the strength of essays and research papers and book analyses where my words made up for the sports I didn’t play, the teams and clubs I wasn’t a part of. I wrote my way through trauma and marriage and divorce and motherhood and pain, and I continue to write because life continues to happen.
I also write because I can’t not - my imagination is constantly navigating, understanding, and reinterpreting the world. My brain is a browser with twelve tabs open, and everything I see or hear sets off an explosion of synapses reaching for associations - in my past, in pop culture, in obscure nerd-dom, in similar situations or recalled memory. Every single one shows me - often insistently, to the point of distraction - alternatives or questions or conflicts to be explored. Writing these things down is occasionally the only way I can get some peace - otherwise the characters and their situations or dialogue or challenges appear in every idle moment, adding new elements each time it replays in my brain.
I also write, I've realized, to find out what I am thinking, what I believe. Words let me try on attitudes and opinions like suits, and choose not to wear the ones that itch. Words are mirrors and I get to judge which reflection is true, and what to do with the funhouse versions that aren't wrong, just different. Words act as a dialogue with myself in which I am allowed to be clumsy and uncertain, words allow me to build the structure of my thoughts piece by piece - unlike in conversation, which often feels like war and bears no mercy for shifts in thinking or feelings.
It was difficult, then to come up with a simple answer to "Why Do I Write?" The nature of Instagram and Pinterest and social media in general is brevity, you're supposed to present just a single thing, one neat little digestible phrase to sum it all up. But it's never that tidy, is it? Which became my reason, in the end. Nothing is as obvious and simple as we want it to be. Things are messy, nuanced, and multi-faceted, beliefs and behaviors are situational and often ingrained, but malleable. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but if they’re the right words, what they spark in us might be worth a thousand Monets, or Picassos, or Pollocks.
In closing, i want to say that I find it interesting that the most effective way to sum up why I write was NOT in simple words, but in the graphic representation of those words, manipulating the text to show the simultaneous nature of everything and nothing, and the similar dichotomy in people - every-1, no-1. The position of the 1 at the center of things, too, is intentional - showing how every 1 of us is surrounded by things, how things are inseparable from the people who create them, who need them, who sell them, who hate them...
I write because I perceive.