Why Do I Write?

Source:  Laura Hopper

Source: Laura Hopper

“The essence of life is to communicate love.”

I’ve allowed the mantras and messages tucked inside the label of my tea bags to guide my thoughts over the past few days. I’ve always been one to drift and be led by the bits of wisdom that seem to come out in our lives, manifesting themselves in unexpected conversations with friends, profound quotes passed over in a blog-reading binge. Or, for myself, these humble few words nestled in a tea bag.

The sentiment expressed here is one that I’ve only partially developed in my (very human) quest to understand what it is that I’m doing, why I’m here, and where I’m going.

It was sometime around middle school that I was first told I was a good writer. I don’t remember the piece, though I’m sure it was the expository, revelatory nature by which I tracked my thoughts, and further, understood my existence, that merited praise from my teacher. It seems telling that I don’t remember the content, but only the moment that I was pulled aside, told I was a good writer, and that because of that, I should keep writing.

Source:  Darling

Source: Darling

I’ve had many journals since then, an array of pamphlets and spiral-bound notebooks that held my adolescent, later early adulthood, thoughts in their unlined pages. I allowed that belief that I had something to share force momentum into the pace and prolificness with which I wrote. But it was external, a truth supported only by those reading what I painstakingly put out. And because of that, I wrote for everyone but myself.

Writing has always made me feel above, like I’ve seen, known, and understood life at a level beyond what others could grasp. I’ve used it as a means of social capital, a mark of my education, my upbringing, and the seriousness with which I take every aspect of my life.

Beyond that though, I always thought that it was writing that made me beautiful. I’ve learned from personal experience, and had the observation supported by what I’ve read and heard from others, that we become the best versions of ourselves when we engage in something we’re passionate about, feeling the omnipresent phenomenon that is “flow.”

Source:  Elephantine

Source: Elephantine

With that in mind, I set myself on the path of becoming what I thought a writer was, believing that I had to be thin, mildly morose and melancholic, and expel anything that wasn’t black from my closet. But once that didn’t work (and it only took me about five years to discover that), I chose to simplify my approach, being guided by the Faulknerian ideal that writers are those who simply write. However, all that seemed to achieve was further self-berating for every second I wasn’t writing.

It’s taken me years to fully realize just how hard, and sometimes painful, it is for me to write. I know this now, yes, but I still don’t understand it. How can something we profess to love and have been celebrated for, be something that may ultimately be bad for us? There’s something that keeps pulling me towards the belief that I am a creative person at heart (and I believe, too, that we all are), but is writing the medium through which I express that artistic impulse?

I’m not sure how to conclude this, because I know that I’m not saying goodbye to writing (and it’s likely that I never will). I’m on a perpetual journey of understanding my relationship to what it is that I create and what that says about who I am. I am worried, admittedly, that if I no longer do what I’ve always succeeded in, that I’ll have nothing, confronting the creative abyss with no passion to guide me, bringing me to light on the other side.

But maybe that’s where the excitement lies, in the fact that, though writing has seemed to fill this role in the past, there really is no single thing that fully encompasses and expresses who we are. I love barre, making my thoughts and emotions manifest through movement. And I love cooking, giving my care to others in the dishes I create. I love collaging, reading, walking, biking, painting, knitting, weaving. And all of these acts communicate love.

Humans are dynamic, evolving beings, constantly in change, constantly in flux. I am not one thing. I am not a writer. I’m Isa, and I am all that implies.

Isabelle EymanComment