Why we write
By Heather O., Segullah Editorial Board Member
Last time I was here, I told you about my father-in-law and his obsession with books. Now I’ll tell you about my husband, and his obsession with writing.
In some ways, it’s the reason we are together. We are both always writing. We got to know each other through letters. We met in high school, but then parted for separate sides of the country. This was in an age where email was for computer geeks, and the internet was really for computer geeks. So, we wrote.
He tells me I was the only one who faithfully wrote him his entire mission, with the exception of his father. When we finally decided that we should get married, 3 years or so after he got home, the digital age was in full swing, and it had been years since we had sent each other anything handwritten. Once, I wrote him a goofy love letter instead of taking notes in class. When he got it, after not seeing my handwriting for so long, he said, “Wow. I REALLY know your handwriting. This is kind of freaky.”
I’ve now been married to this man for 10 years, and I’ve learned more about what makes him tick, and why he does what he does. And I’ve figured out more about why he writes.
We both keep journals, handwritten ones even, although I know that sort of makes us dinosaurs. But there is something quite satisfying about writing in a paper journal, and having a year or so of your life chronicled in one spot. But I’ll admit that to me, writing is mostly a creative exercise. Yes, I dump as much garbage as the next person into my journal, entries driven by intense emotions that, put together, make it look like my life is just full of drama (which it’s not. Seriously, I’m the most boring person I know). But I also try new things in my journal, short stories, essays, even a few starts to a novel. Creative stuff. (Such as it is.)
My husband doesn’t do that. He writes to solve intellectual conundrums, to bounce ideas off of others, to approach thing from an different angle. He writes academic articles that prove a point, or solve a puzzle, or illustrates something nobody has ever thought of before. He wants to write something that will impact future generations.
Me? I just hope that somebody will laugh at my blog.
In this new world where anybody with an internet connection and blogspot address can be a writer, sometimes it makes me wonder why so many people are writing now. Have there always been this much interest in writing, and it’s just never been this easy? Or is blogging something that lends itself uniquely to mass interest, as you can put yourself in the spotlight, regardless of your message? (One commentor accused a friend of mine, an avid blogger, of being self-centered on her blog. Well, duh.)
This blog is aimed at writers, at Mormon writers in particular. So I ask you, why do you write what you do? Is it creative, is it cathartic, or is it, as Madeleine L’Engel talks about, something that you just can’t NOT do? She knew that she was a writer because even as she got rejected as writer, she started writing a novel about rejection in her head. It was something she could never get away from. Writing.
Using this definition, my husband is a writer. He will write his thoughts for an essay on the back of the program on Sunday if he doesn’t have any other paper handy, and he constantly carries a notebook full of writing. Not a journal–a notebook. They have to be separate, you know.
Because writing is serious business. Isn’t it?
Why do you do it?