Twice … I’ve read the same question. It held my attention, if only for a short time between this and that. Then I read it again. That made three times. “Why do you write?” The question sought me, so I thought I’d ponder it.
Why did I write and what place does writing serve in my life?
I’d never dreamed of being an author. Writing, art and music were not real jobs according to my father. He loved the concrete world where questions had answers and equations balanced. I loved him and followed his lead.
But being an only child gave me time, unsolicited hours to while away. My mother kept an immaculate household, part of her German love for order. She’d lost her mum at 11 and didn’t play with me as such. She loved me watched me, read to me but I don’t ever recall her actually playing with me. Maybe the shock broke that part of her.
Left to my own devices, I played alone with my dolls, my bike and my colouring in books. I loved to colour, the page offered endless opportunities. Pencils were fun but with paint things got messy. The reality in my mind often failed to match reality. From an early age I read, books became a solace; friends to spend time with when the other kids in our street were not about.
I nestled under my mosquito net and read. The book became weightless in my hand and the print gave way to imagination. It enthralled me. I could construct the setting, interpret the theme, love or hate the characters. I’d entered the story wearing the cloak of invisibility.
Adult me continued to read, preferring memoir. A people watcher, I had to surmise but the sharing of stories gave me insight into the human experience. It couldn’t hurt, a health care worker needs empathy and understanding. I worked and read and raised kids and lived a busy life.
My years in ICU challenged me as a human. Feelings of helplessness didn’t sit well. It took a while to reconcile what I saw. My back ached sometimes as if invisible talons gripped me from behind. I came to understand this feeling. It was my struggle with helplessness. On Mondays, I would sometimes sit at the computer and empty my heart and my head. Words flew onto the page, raw and uncensored.
I’d begun writing.
When my father died and I became an adult orphan, something internal drove me to write my parent’s story. After the usual false starts, procrastination and self-doubt I began. I wrote a book and self published “Schicksal.” I’d stepped into the unknown, landed on my foal legs and changed direction. I found I loved sharing my story, I loved the interest and the questions. I loved the fact that my humble example, might encourage someone else to write.
The whole process changed me. Although I had no living relatives, the thorough exploration of where I came from, firmed the ground under my feet. I found writing classes, I found poets, I found other authors and writers. I came to understand that writing is like playing golf; there’s a lot of honing, creating and educated rule breaking to be done.Then I decided to write my personal story, one of anorexia, in the 70s. It’s laid me bare.
So why do I write?
I love the power of the written word. It can be as gentle as a fleeting kiss or brutal and punishing. I write to transcend myself and my limitations. Writing allows me to explore the world and my place in it. My words and opinions are gifts, I share with the world.