It’s the kind of prompt I loathe the most. But as part of a contest entry, I had to do it. I had to write about why I write (in 500 words or less) with the oh-so-ordinary “I write because…” opener.
So, without further ado — or complaining — here she is…
I write because I am able. And because I am able, I write because I must. It’s my job, my passion, my calling, my existence. I write because there are words. And words make sentences. And sentences, paragraphs. And eventually, paragraphs turn into books.
As a young child, I remember sitting in the laundry room of my family’s apartment complex, the smell of Downy sheets in the air, the chug of a coin-operated washing machine keeping a steady rhythm, a dog-eared book in my hand. Always a book in my hand. From Judy Blume to Ernest Hemingway to John Irving, the words of others have helped me find my own.
And so, it is my turn to give back.
From the moment I mastered a pencil, I have written. My first autobiography was penned at age eight. On the orange construction paper cover, I recorded in lopsided cursive, “I hope this book changes your life as much as it has changed mine.” Even then, I had a purpose. Even then, the accumulated wisdom of my eight years was offered up as a handshake to humanity.
When someone is able to see herself in my sentences, when someone reads a phrase and says, “Oh, yes! That happened to me, too…,” I feel I have done my job. And when someone sighs, “Thank goodness. I thought I was the only one…,” I know I am doing what I was put on this earth to do.
Whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or random ramblings, I write to navigate this life and to help others journey through theirs. Ultimately, we travel this world alone, but with shared words and common experiences, we can walk side by side.
And while we’re wandering together – especially if we’re holding hands – you might notice the middle finger on my writing hand bends awkwardly to the right.
“You weren’t born like that,” my mother says. “It’s writer’s finger. You earned it. I have the pencil nubs to prove it.”
And so, if I’ve already won the prize, I might as well run the race. I, in fact, love the race and wouldn’t miss it for the world.
I write because I can.
Because I must.
Because there’s nothing – except perhaps my husband, my kids, my family, my friends, and a hearty pour of Cabernet Sauvignon – that fills me more.