Language has Power and that’s Why I Write

The inciting question: What was an early experience where you learned that language had power… when my little sister’s first words were, “Patty did it.” Thus, we have why I write:

  •   Because I’m compelled by blood. I honor my heredity: my parents and their highly literate minds.
  •   Because my first fully-formed memory shows my mother and me as ensemble. She took over my chore—defaulted forever to the eldest child—of drying the dishes because I had homework. She helped me craft a metaphor that marked me forever in the teacher’s clear eyes as a writer, and I honed the gift.
  •   Because my parents’ parents, who we visited a lot, lived down state. My folks had flown hundreds of miles from the coop, only to return every holiday, like alcoholics seeking booze. Onboard entertainment wasn’t ubiquitous back then, and the babies had demands. To occupy her eldest, my mom would point to a passing car and suggest, “What do you think their story is?” I was trained to story-start—and I still do it at every stoplight.
  •   Because I have a bodacious vocabulary, one which can implode casual conversation with friends. It’s never my intention to show off or shut down: I just know words. I adore writing for the precision my vocabulary can bring to a page, with beats in my head from iambic pentameter and song.
  •   Because I can try on personality traits. To have an unknown, perhaps childish, aspect of me become sensate. To experience another’s point of view. To gain empathy for someone whose actions I abhor or one who has shown me great hate.
  •   Because that’s often how I process my feelings, amidst complex episodes that bewilder or cause pain. That is, I write when I’m black, I write when I’m blue . . . and then I feel all better. Perspective gained, I create win-win.
  •   Because it’s a better preoccupation than piss-and- vinegar politics, the national conversation that’s hobbling compassion and independent thought.
  •   Because if I don’t like a character’s behavior, I hit delete,something I wasn’t able to do in my adored speech- language pathology career. I closed my private practice with “whoopee”, not whimper.
  •   Because a sibling manipulates the family story, forever casting me as antagonist and scourged. I’m scapegoated, seldom able to air my side, even when I have one. And so, I write my story. I declare my truth, I persist, I dare.
  •   To launch Google searches . . . I crave learning. On the path to self-actualization, there is no caveat. I’m more of a process person than a product person. I don’t default to research, but I do value its input.
  •   To circumvent Alzheimer’s or staleness of brain. I am a word nerd and I am proud of it. I endeavor to maintain my cherished possession, a love of my life.
  •   Because I can and I am compelled to create. I call writing my elegant hobby (though it’s not elegant when my accountant agrees and nixes tax write-offs).To paraphrase a message of a famous book: All of my reasons are equal, but some are more equal than others. Which ones do you think they are? If you ask me, I might tell. But writers love secrets—

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8 comments on “Language has Power and that’s Why I Write
  1. Sadira Stone says:

    What a marvelous post! My daughter grew up in Germany, and we’d fly back to the U.S. every summer to visit family. She and I amused ourselves in airports inventing stories for the characters we saw waiting for their flights. I love your “elegant hobby” designation. May I borrow that?

  2. Alex J. Cavanaugh says:

    I could use you in the car for long trips if you are good at starting stories and keeping everyone amused.

  3. Olga Godim says:

    Love your reasons to write. And I absolutely adore your expression “bodacious vocabulary”. I want to use it in one of my stories.
    Thanks for commenting on my blog today.

  4. Peggy P Edwards says:

    My father was the only English speaker at home in Mexico City. I saw no reason to learn English, he was blond and blue eyed and scary. When he wanted to tell me something my older sister translated, but she knew I was scared of him so never translated anything offensive. Finally my father decided I had to learn English so he said, “If you don’t learn English by Christmas you’ll get no Christmas gifts.” I learned English in those two weeks before Christmas.

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