It’s fun to find an old book you haven’t seen for a long time. There it is, tucked away in the dusty corner of your bookshelf, hidden away like an old fossil or relic. You pull it out, brush the dust off, and recognition strikes you. You remember the day you bought it, the place you spent reading it, and all the relevant content. It’s a little like meeting an old friend after many years. You can’t help but remenisce nostalgically.
I recently had this experience as I was rummaging through one of my bookshelves. The book that called out to me like that long lost friend was an instructive book called Writing Creative Nonfiction: Instruction and Insights from the Teachers of the Associated Writing Programs.
I riffled the pages, turned to random sections, and smiled as I read passages highlighted all those years ago. The book had been required reading for a creative nonfiction course I attended at Utah Valley University. I remember this period being very fruitful for my writing. The creative nonfiction lens opened new doorways in my imagination, and motivated useful introspection which developed a greater understanding of character.
One essay particularly moved me. It served as a mission statement. The author of this inspiring manifesto is Terry Tempest Williams. The question she answers in her essay is one I think we authors seldomly think about, although we often intuitively sense the answer: why do we write?
At the beginning of the creative nonfiction course that year, me and my fellow classmates had to ask ourselves the same question. Why do we write? The process of answering the question, of digging deeper into my own motivations as a writer was inspiring, insightful, and anchored me with a stronger sense of orientation. I knew where I had been. Now, where was I going?
Today I will ask myself the same question. Maybe much has changed since the first time I asked this question eight years ago. Perhaps some conclusions have remained the same. Regardless, it’s always good to declare my mission statement, to reorient my course and desired destination.
Why I Write
I write to understand what I’m really thinking. I write to refine my thinking. I write to see the world through a new lens. I write to observe myself through a new lens. I write because a story has possessed me and won’t let go. I write to see where it leads. I write to run down a dream. I write to be entertained. I write to be emotionally moved. I write to inspire. I write to be scared and to scare you. I write for the love of it. I write for the need of it. I write because so badly I want you to understand. I write to express what I believe. I write to express my own beliefs. I write to understand my own beliefs. I write to create order out of a chaotic order. I write to bring life to the page. I write to build worlds. I write to form conclusions. I write to ask questions. I write to wage battle with evil. I write because I want to see good prevail. I write to confront harsh realities. I write to shed light on darkness. I write to seek reconciliation. I write sometimes because there’s simply nothing better to do.
Why do you write?
Writing Creative Nonfiction is available in Amazon.