Why I Write

Why I Write, or How I Write, or Something About Me and Writing

(a one-pager reflection last summer)

            This is something I question seriously, especially when friends comment on my summer in this vein, “How long is that institute thing?”  and “When does your vacation begin?”  I try to answer evasively so they don’t calculate how many days before I have to check into school for the fall session.

Another thing that prompts deep self-doubt is when I re-experience the effect of coaching for 2.5 weeks while the participants get AWG’s and a healthy start on their own writing and I have generated nothing.  Even in-class prompts go unfinished because someone always needs technical assistance.  Somewhere in the late part of week three of an ISI, I think my sanity needs at least a diagnostic tune up if not a complete overhaul.

What I have observed about my writing this summer is that my process involves amassing thoughts and many scribbled pages on a subject that is pressing on my attention.  If I am to write, I have to produce a great deal of what Don Murray so charitably calls, “discovery drafting” before I can get a clue about even the form, let alone clarity of purpose.  So, revision is, for me, one big gruesome butchering, a slaughter.  In a more vegan mode, I simply disregard everything I’ve written and get a new, organic piece of recycled paper and write off the topic, trusting that the background I need was provided in the carcass of the first draft.  And then further “revision” is simply constrained by the deadline.

I write because I have to and I don’t know where to get a sponsor.  I write because I have this nagging sense that I have something to say.  I write in absolute fear of rejection.  It is exhilarating to learn that something I’ve written, “spoke” to someone else’s experience.  And really, in profound respect for Don Murray, how else will I find out what I really think?

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