I received a post today from good friend, Robert Moulthrop, who writes short stories, plays and screenplays. He informed his readers that his short story “Friends in Need” has won Helen: A Literary Magazine’s inaugural short story competition. Congratulations, Robert!
Robert returned to his passion for creative writing after a long career in public relations. The title of his post is Five Reasons Why I Write. I first met Robert many years ago when we both toiled in PR, and partnered for a while in a short-lived PR firm. Then we went our separate ways but stayed good friends.
Why Robert Writes
His question made me think: why do I write? And let me ask you, why do you write? Is it something you love to do, or hate but do it because you can hardly be in any business without having to write a grammatically correct email, letter, proposal — or even a blog post!
These are Robert’s 5 reasons and then I’ll share mine:
- I have to write. Without words I am bereft of purpose. There is no place to put the observations that engulf me. What is seen must be captured, assessed, noted, saved, savored, and ultimately share.
- I have to tell the truth. Fiction is the bridge to truth. Fiction is truer than truth, truer than everyday life. Story is where I can show not only the liar, but how she lies and why she lies; where he only suddenly becomes self-aware. Story is where people grieve and laugh. Story is where reverberations from the past become manifest in the present, where when we talk about life we are really talking about death.
- I can make people listen to the truth. If my writing is true, then my reader, my listener will agree, “Yes, this is true.” And he will smile, or she will nod in that sublime flash of recognition. “Yes, that is the way people act.” “Yes, that is me.” And will continue to listen to me and perhaps to others in new ways.
- The writing process is a sublime gift. Nowhere am I more attuned to something greater than myself than when word follows word, when the sentence, now wrong, becomes the sentence now right, becomes the paragraph, becomes the page, becomes the story, becomes the novel. I am conscious of my responsibility to The Cathedral of Words, that my few bricks must add value to the edifice, even as I strive to engage you, make you laugh or weep, but always to have you, my reader, agree that what is written is true.
- I write because I can. For a very long time I thought everyone could write, even those who didn’t. I now know that there are many who cannot. Which means I have the obligation to write. Someone passed me the stick, and I am the one standing in front of the campfire, holding forth, interpreting both life and shadow. It’s a responsibility. And it is one that I accept with joy.
Why I Write
I hadn’t given this much thought until I read Robert’s reasons. But now I have. My 5 reasons aren’t as lofty as Robert’s are, but they are just as important to me:
- I like to write. I started writing in grade school — not as part of any homework assignment although I wrote those, too — but because it was fun. Back then I wrote a few short (very short) stories. I think then that I knew writing would always be an important part of my life.
- I can make a living writing. That’s not so profound as Robert’s second reason but it is the honest truth. When I got to college I decided to major in journalism and English to hone my craft. I edited the college’s evening newspaper (while I was still working and attending night school) and then was lucky to get a job after school with the Long Island Commercial Review, a daily business newspaper. That’s were I learned how to write to meet daily deadlines. It was an unmatched experience that helps me to to this day. Later, I moved to public relations where writing is the principal tool.
- I can express my own opinions. It was when I started my blog that I was liberated from the constraints of writing for a company and communicating its messages. Now I could write about what I darn well pleased. And I do.
- I write for people who are important in my personal life. I am blessed with a loving family and friends. I like to drop hand-written notes to friends and family to let them know how much they mean to me. And I’m so grateful to the be the recipient of their notes. Letter writing is a dying art form and I’m overjoyed when the mail arrives and I see a hand-written note from a friend.
- I write to mentor young people. As a “seasoned” professional, I’m often asked for advice by young professions or from friends and families on their behalf. I help them to learn how to write. Classes in penmanship are long gone. Who writes with a pen or pencil anymore.?It’s sad, but true, that writing courses are no longer a requirement for most college degrees. Many graduates don’t know how to write a sentence with a subject, verb and object. I feel I’m providing a service if I can help to edit their resumes or LinkedIn profiles. This is sort of in line with Robert’s 5th reason. I can so I do.
So that’s my story.
Why Do You Write?
Do you enjoy writing or do you consider it an unpleasant chore? I’d love to know the reasons why you write. Please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. Thank you.