Why Do I Write?

My mother read to me as a child. In fact, the day I came home from first grade and read Dick and Jane to her, she was astonished I learned that fast, but also that she wouldn’t get to read to me as much. So, my understanding of the world came through the imagination of writers in books. But it wasn’t until I was a young teen that I made the determination that I wanted to write, to be an author, although I wasn’t sure what that was, exactly—an author.

I told anyone who’d listen and some who did not that I wanted to be a writer. In a letter to a friend, when I was 16, I said I wanted to write and travel, and I’ve been able to do that to some extent. I write more than I travel, but if I won the lottery, I’d travel six months of the year and write six months about those travels or whatever it was that the travel showed me, stored up in me, allow me to release, what I learned and unlearned, and just revel in the ability to explore.

It seems that words have swirled in my mind in a particular way all my life. They practice a sort of murmuration, those flocks of birds and schools of fish that seem to dip and fly and shape and reshape as if hundreds of creatures were one. Each bird/fish is dedicated to keeping the thought together and making a whole statement that changes in a second but is the same story. It is the ebb and flow that I follow with my mind, for no other reason that the sheer delight of it.

I would not be afraid to guess that I’ve written over a million words in my lifetime. Who knows? I could make a rough count of the published articles, the essays, the books but that would not count the emails and FB posts, the blog posts, the letters written in earnest to writing students. The letters by hand, the PR, the handwritten letters and notes, all related to writing in some way.

And though I may regret a few of those words—who doesn’t? I can’t take them back because they and everything else I’ve written have forged that murmuration of me.