Roundtable: Why We Write?
Muses and Things was borne out of our desire to connect, share, and document our adventures with each other and the people who are close to us. In hindsight, it seems as if it was fated. The eight of us met and became friends in school, but it’s our shared passion that brought us there and, in one way or another, held us together all these years—our common love for writing.
There is much to be said about why people write. Others regard it as an intellectual pursuit, a lifting of the mind and spirit to better understand the workings of the universe and the rudiments of human emotions. Some write for themselves, never needing a public for affirmation and connection; while others write to seek out an audience, to touch another soul with the beauty of words.
Ray Bradbury, perhaps one of the greatest writers of our time, said, “You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” We cannot help but agree, and for this week’s Roundtable, in celebration of Muses and Things’s first month, we explore and reflect on the reasons behind our deep need to write and why writing has become an important part of who we are.
Growing up an ugly duckling (sans the swan ending) and always being compared to my sister who has porcelain skin and the charms, I have come to rely on my eccentricity to get by. I convinced myself early that looks will fade but humor, distinctiveness, and intelligence will stand the test of time.
Honestly, I was attention-deficit and needed to feel loved.
Although I could dance, sing, draw, make a bunch of puppets, and beat all the boys in BMX bicycle races, I felt like I’m always seen as mediocre and that no one really cared. But when my grade school English teacher sincerely looked me in the eye one day and told me, “You are a good writer, Michelle. You should write more . . . embrace your wit and wisdom,” I felt love.
At that unsullied moment, I knew I was cared for and appreciated.
When I write, I know that people only see my words and not my face. I like that idea. People only judge me with my words—no need to apologize for being that scrawny plain child in the family, no need to worry about how to talk with confidence in front of a crowd.
Writing enables me to feel “visible” in a different way. I write because I have been hurt. I write because I want to be healed.
I know it’s a sad reason for writing. But no matter how depressing my reason is, I know for sure that this practice consoles me for all the bad things and, at this point in my existence, transports me to a better scene and helps me celebrate the good in life.
Stephen King, one of my favorite authors, said, “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes, it can be a way back to life.” I guess you could say this sums up the reason as to why I’ve been writing for most of my life and why I can never see myself ever parting with my proverbial pen.
As a child, my desire to write stemmed from my love of reading. But it wasn’t so much as me wanting to weave stories but more of needing to see the world and immortalizing my adventures in words.
Over the years, writing has become more than just a way to express myself and to document personal histories. For one, it is now how I make a living. But more importantly, writing has become my rock—it is through writing that I understand myself and the world around me. When life’s mysteries become too much of a challenge, writing allows me to go outside of myself and to see things from a different perspective.
It isn’t just about stringing the perfect words, melodious language, or beautiful metaphors. My need to write goes beyond my desire to be heard or to be understood. It isn’t about chasing immortality through words. To write is to constantly learn. It is to continuously discover myself, the people I connect with, and the time and space we move in.
Writing is my compass. It is how I find my way back whenever I lose sight of who and what I am.
I know no matter how loud or frank I could be, there are many things I wouldn’t be able to speak about. Sometimes, spoken words can be too quick, uttered without much thought and later on become regretful. Other times, spoken words can be too few, without much explanation that later on, they hurt. I’ve learned my lesson well.
This is why often, I grab a pen in hand and write.
To me, writing is such therapy. When I write, I am able to say all there is in my heart without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. When I write, I can be who I really am without fear of missing the right words to say how I truly feel.
Writing has been my way of life. It has kept me company through the good and the bad, for better or worse times in my life. This is why I could spend all day whining if I lose my pen. It has kept me alive through heartbreaks, it keeps me going in the good times, and it changes me every single time.
I don’t know where I’d be now if I didn’t learn how to love writing. Sure, I could have been a singer, but I wouldn’t be as satisfied. Because like I always say, it is writing that feeds my soul.
I had a diary since I was in fifth grade. A diary that became my best friend wherein I could tell my thoughts, frustrations, hopes, and dreams without prejudice and judgment. It became my therapist whenever I needed one. Growing up, I never really outgrew writing.
I don’t consider myself a great writer. I don’t even do it for a living. But why do I still continue to write? I tried to think of reasons why I still continue to write but could not think of anything substantial. After a while, I tried to think, “what if I stopped writing?” If I stopped writing, I would be losing an important part of myself. Everything would look dull and feel lifeless. If I stopped writing, it would be like no coffee for the coffee-drinker, or no balloons for a toddler’s birthday party. Life would be like no trees in the park, no summers at the beach, no moonlight on a scary night. Everything would just be about routines and rules.
Then I realized why I write. Because when I write, I feel alive.
“Writing is what I do, it’s not what I am.” I don’t know about Carrie Bradshaw, but I think if our choices make up who we are, then I dare say that writing is what I am.
Unlike most writers I know, I wasn’t born with that natural flair for words, that knack for expressing my thoughts and feelings in vivid verbal imagery, that adequate command of language that produces the kind of prose that provokes discerning readers. It didn’t come to me as easy as that. I had to want it so bad. I had to defend it to a family who didn’t believe it was a lucrative career option. I had to constantly brush up on grammar and catch up on reading classic literature. I had to stagger my way to a classroom full of budding writers with lofty ambitions and writing achievements up their sleeves. I had to be the small fish in a big pond. In short, I pursued a writing career armed only with a “want.”
To be honest, I’m not sure why I write, why I wanted it in the first place even if I knew I wasn’t good at it, and why I still keep pushing even if it drives me insane. Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and every day is an uphill battle against a blank piece of paper. But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that without it, i think life would be a tad too easy.
It all started with my love of keeping a record of my experience, contemplations, and sentiments. At an early age of nine, my primary purpose is to simply document a piece of my life—my first real crush, my happiness and heartaches, my composures and fears, and unquestionably, my little secrets and petty emotions.
But as time went by, I learned to appreciate how the words written in my personal journal possess a power to take me back to the life I once had.
Then, I felt that when I write, I connect with my soul. It releases my emotions. It gives me intimate bliss. It inspires me.
Writing becomes my soul.
Writing also made it easier for me to channel my messages to the people I love; I have loved, and had not intended to love. It helps me understand and manage my feelings, my thoughts.
And during those times when I unconsciously detached myself from writing and have lost my connection with my inner soul, writing haunted me. That sometimes, in the middle of the night, I woke up and had to grab a pen and paper just to release the thoughts out of my head and the emotions out of my core. They were all begging to be released and be transformed into words.
So if you ask me why I write, I would just respond, “Why not?”
While my father wanted me to become a lawyer, and my mother prayed that I become a nurse, I decided to pursue Journalism, but this did not really surprise them.
Since I was a kid, I was amazed and amused with the stories that I read on newspapers and magazines that my father brings home everyday. And I think that’s when my love for writing started. I remember asking my mother to proofread my stories that only 7 or 8-year old kids would appreciate.
But as I grow older, I started to see my love for writing in another way. It became my outlet to voice out whatever I have in mind that I think not all people would understand. It became my best buddy especially on times that I feel like nothing’s going right. It is a liberating experience, and I don’t really know how to describe the feeling that it gives me.
Although I am not as good as the other writers out there, I try my very best to at least make my readers enjoy my pieces, and I am willing to improve even more that’s why I don’t really mind being edited or corrected.
I write for a living. I write as a hobby. But I think the most fulfilling part of it is that I satisfy my personal interests and preferences without having the need to impress everybody. Writing is a form of free speech, after all.[Image Source]
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