why i write

I am overwhelmed sometimes and feel a great deal of wonder at words, just simple words and how deeply we can touch each other with them, though I know that most of the time language is the most abused of all human abilities or traits. 

On the river a few weeks ago, we wrote about why we write.  Here’s what I came up with:

I write as a way of wondering aloud about people. Who are we? Why do we act the way we do? What are the traits that connect us, the emotions that fuse us? Although we have such varied experiences, there is a universal humanity that we all share.

How do we move through the world in relation to other people?

We wouldn’t be able to navigate completely alone, without those connections that sustain us.

I write to join in. To add to the conversation, sometimes by distracting it: by thinking of it differently, challenging why we are this way–imperfect and flawed. But are we, if there is no perfection, no pinnacle? We are only not good enough when measured against others we think to be better, only OK when measured against who we think to be worse.

There is no scale, no scoring.

We are people moving through the world in ways so differently they can divide us but with motives so identical they could connect us.


Writers often seem like loners. And we are, in social ways, a lot of times. But we write as a way to connect to people, to understand ourselves and the people around us. In that way, we are not loners. We just do our work alone.

We use language to fuse ourselves to other people.

But through stories from each other we can feel that we are not alone, that we are not the first and the last to confront loss.


All semester, I have been writing my own story. A self-indulgent past time, it feels. But it has been cleansing nonetheless, to say the words I hadn’t, admit my faults, wonder aloud about my future.

I am wrapping up what I have to say about myself, but I am not done writing. I will finish out grad school writing fiction again, telling stories.
I often wish I had more to say, but somehow it comes out in a story. such as these. 

(Italicized quotes are Leslie Marmon Silko’s, pulled from her letters to James Wright. They can be found in The Delicacy and Strength of Lace). 

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