Why I write
500 words personal essay, Orange County Roadshow/Podcast, 1888 Center, April 9, 2018
- 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 eyes as a writer, and I honed the gift.
- Because my parents’ parents, who we visited a lot, lived downstate. 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 a 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—