I have been thinking about why I write for two reasons. First of all, on Sunday we were trying to convince two of our friends to create blogs. (Our apartment had just started a joint blog at http://www.sabbathstew.blogspot.com) This led me to think about why I have enjoyed my blogging experience and how I could convince someone else to be willing to put their thoughts and writing out where other people can see it.
Second, I have been taking a class about how to teach writing. As I have learned things in this class, and others, it has changed the way I viewed writing for myself and how much more powerful it can be when done correctly.
Growing up I wrote because I had to. I knew that a teacher was going to be looking at my paper and was going to decide if it was written perfectly. I didn't care if I learned anything while writing it, I didn't question what I read or wrote. I only cared about putting on that paper what I thought the teacher wanted to hear. This generally got me good grades, but I did not enjoy it or gain much from the experience.
I have been reading a book called After The End by Barry Lane. In this book there was a quote that hit me as I read it. It says, "Unfortunately, I was never taught to ask questions in school and neither were most of the college freshmen who enter my classes. They were taught to write answers, to be experts, to lie. Questions were a threat to their knowledge. Questions were something that came numbered at the ends of chapters. Something that teachers asked. Something to ignore.
I feel that most of my writing growing up was in fact a lie. It had no depth, no personal connections, it left nobody wondering. I don't think that I, or anyone else, was better after reading my writing than they were before they read it. My writing did not help me understand my own feelings or those of others. Luckily, I have had a change of heart.
I can't say that my writing does any or all of the things listed above now, but I am willing to put my thoughts out there. Edward Albee says, "I write to find out what I'm thinking about." I have indeed learned more about myself since starting this blog and have been more willing and excited to write. If something happens to me I see myself thinking, I need to write about this!
Surprisingly, I run into old friends that say they have kept up with me by reading my blog. I am amazed that anyone finds what I say interesting! I especially appreciate when people leave comments. That what I wrote made them question, or sparked a thought inside of them and that they are willing to write and share that connection back with me.
So why do we write? Why do I write? Why should you write? Why are we not more willing to question life and to learn and grow from each other? As a child we question everything. I see so many children who have such a thirst for learning, their Gatorade is asking questions. Sadly, it seems that we beat this out of them sometime in their education. We teach them to follow blindly, to conform, not to stand out because you might get noticed. Nobody wants to be different. They don't need to understand why they do things, they just need to get them done!
We need to reverse this trend! Be willing to speak out, question, and take a stand. Is it sometimes scary to write something knowing that someone could see it? Yes! However, I know that getting the things that are stuck inside me and finding a way to let them escape is such a freeing experience. Many times once the thoughts, like water, begin to flow, soon a waterfall of ideas and thoughts come gushing out.
So why do I write? Why should you write? "We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in introspection." -Anais Nin. I don't think I have written anything in here that will be able to convince you or anyone else of the freeing power of writing, but I hope that sometime in your life you will come to that realization. It will change your life and the way you view it.
"I tell students that good writing is fueled by unanswerable questions. Once they discover the joy every three-year-old...knows, a world of knowledge is suddenly unlocked...The art of asking questions is intrinsically linked with the art of having something to say, of valuing your experience, and trusting enough to share even painful experiences, first with yourself and then with others." -Barry Lane
So why do you write? Or why don't you? I would love to know. The question is out there, will you respond?