There are as many reasons to ask this question as there are ways to answer it. For many, writing is a uniquely personal form of expression, offering a way of creating another world or trying to make sense of the world in which they live. It can be a compulsion, or something that feels as though it is dragged, kicking and screaming, into existence. Writing means different things to different people, and its meaning can change over time.
I was thinking about this recently following an invitation to participate in a creative project which was a bit outside of my normal scope. As evidenced on this blog and in my stories and journal entries and letters and the like, I love words. I like to play with them, test out their mettle, carefully select the ones which suit my current purpose and help me to express the sometimes apparently inexplicable. I don’t always know where I’m going when I start to create something, and quite often I finish in a location that is unexpected, but for me that is part of the joy of creation.
The creative endeavour is the Deep Red Scarlet Pen project. This project is orchestrated by the artistically talented Emma Kay Inks, and it began with an accidental over-ordering of scarlet red pens for drawing. What to do with them? Offer to send them out to interested people to participate in creating something with pen and paper. This came to my attention through a mutual writing friend and I thought I’d give it a go. It seemed like a good theory until the package arrived by post and I had to give serious consideration to what I could do with it. Drawing would be an option for some, but my artistic endeavors with pens and pencils are crude at best. Then it occurred to me. What would I normally do with such a brilliant pen? Write, of course. This is what I came up with, captured in a spiral with a scarlet red pen.
Why write? To find out what I really think. To make stuff up. To create new worlds, give life to characters who inhabit my head in places both real and imagined. To test out what it’s like to be what I know I’m not. To create new stories. To entertain. To encourage. To record in some small way the awe and wonder of life as I experience it. To quest, to search for a deeper layer of meaning. To be playful. To show a different way of seeing and being. To be heard. To surprise. To make myself laugh. To take another viewpoint. To exact revenge in a literary style. To capture snapshot moments and snatches of eavesdropped conversations. To create empathy for people and situations. To make sense of it all. To be.
Why do you write?
[Photo: a foggy road through the Hartley valley]