“Why do you write?” was a question posed to me recently to which my response was, “Umm.” I had to sit and ponder momentarily because when I began writing, writing wasn’t the intention. I simply heard a voice whisper, opened a blank document in Word, wrote what I heard, and years later had a complete novel in my hands. The answer to that question was layered.
Writing was never an intention of mine, never a goal or aspiration. It pursued me at the moment I was most hungry for purpose.
Writing was never a thought. I loved reading and still do. I just never saw myself as one to sit down and form paragraphs page after page. I hated writing in school. To be told what I had to read and write papers on was like telling me when I was going to die. That’s why I barely graduated high school. An F in English proved writing was not my calling in life. Granted, my failing grade was not the result of a lack of smarts but rather a refusal of putting forth effort. At some point in my educational career I had given up. The drudgery of rolling out of bed and listening day after day to monotone explanations of y = mx + b or how Colonials built America or that I could not form a proper sentence without subject and verb agreement made me more inclined to tune out than turn my brain on. Not to mention, I attended a different high school every year which left me disinterested in learning and more into forging new friendships, and in some cases, alliances. So, when the school bell rang, I clocked out.
By the grace of God, I graduated on time, and after several months of regaining my sanity, I enrolled in a community college. A semester later I was sworn into the Air Force only to find out that the military was not my route either. In the course of “figuring out” my life, a voice whispered to me. As I mentioned above, I instinctively opened a blank document and typed what I’d heard. That action was unfamiliar to me, but there was something about the clicking of keys and creating chaos on the page that felt so at home to me. Watching the story unfold, hearing the whisper in my ear grow louder and the voices increase in number was exhilarating. I wanted more of it. I needed more.
As I continued to write, not only did I hear and see characters, I heard and saw myself.
I saw myself on the page. I quickly began to see that those voices showed up to show me me, and I knew that in seeing myself that others would see themselves as well. As I continued living, learning, growing, and loving, I also knew that through my stories, others would be free to live, learn, grow, and love. We would all be free to live better lives.
Recently, I attended a book conference where I was a featured author. During this conference, I noticed an author who had a serious hustle. Naleighna Kai sold out of her books because people stayed lined at her table. I told her, “I need to get my hustle on like you but I’m not a salesperson.” She stopped me right there and asked, “Why do you write?”
She went on to say, “Did you write your story only for you or do you believe there are others out there who want/need to hear your story as well?”
Ahhh. That was a revelation for me. Though becoming a writer was not my intention, I knew the reason God allowed me to hear that whisper wasn’t only for my ears. Someone else had been abandoned by a parent or grew up in an abusive home. There were many out there struggling with some form of addiction–to people or drugs and alcohol. I knew there were others besides myself who could relate to holding onto the past, willingly allowing it to keep us hostage. Writing was not meant to be kept to myself, so why is it so hard for me to let people know that I am a writer? That I have not one but two novels published? How do I expect people to know that I am an author if I don’t open my mouth and say so?
Why do I write? I write to heal, to better lives univer(soul)ly every story. I write to better relationships, to better my own. I write to reveal the truth and uncover the lies we accustom ourselves to hearing and telling. I write to liberate, to transform, to assist in transition. I write to make connections, to draw parallels. To expose and evaluate, to reveal consequences to our actions, and to show the many ways we judge others without wanting that judgment extended toward us. I write to understand others, but also to understand myself; to understand human motivation. What motivates us to do and say the things we do and say: I write to explore. To understand our convictions and our needs. I write to encourage others, to allow each of us to see ourselves through others to better our relationships in one way or another. To foster better communication and love toward one another; to better humanity.
I write because it is my mission, my purpose, my reason for experiencing and (be)ing.
My reasons for writing will continue to expand the more I do, and that is a beautiful thing. I may never fully understand why God chose writing as the vessel in which I would do His work, but I can appreciate who it has allowed me to become in doing so. Feeling as though writing was not my calling in life only to be called to write is proof that life always points us in the direction we are to go in. When we ask, seek, and knock, we must be willing to answer the call when it comes.