Discussion #12: The Big Why

Today, I’d like to broach the big question: Why Write? Do you write because you ultimately want to reach a certain element of society? Or is it because you find a certain personal satisfaction in slinging words in some particular fashion? What does writing really bring to you besides an occasional head ache or eye strain?

What do you look for when you read? Agreement? Understanding? A new perspective, or an argument you can sink your teeth into? What fuels your own words? Is what you read similar, or very different, from what you write? Do you only read authors you know you will be comfortable with, or do you choose to read things that will get an emotional response?

And is that same fuel what you are hoping to gain through your own writing? Do you believe that writing can change or alter the world, and is that what you are really about? Do you want to change the world, or some aspect of it with the words you write? Has writing changed your world, or your view of the way things work?

Okay, I have asked some fairly large and even deep questions here. I’ve been taking a break from writing. No, not completely, but I have definitely taken a step back and given myself other things to do. It is one of the ways I use to periodically clear out the attic and sort this from that. I took a breather. I do write every day, in my journal. And I have been responding to two different prompts a week, as well as trying to come up with something for these discussions.

When I write that out, it sounds like quite a bit. But it is far less than what I had been doing. And I know that my breathing space is coming to an end because I have come to that place where the above questions are beginning to make themselves heard. When they do, I know that it’s time to begin again.

Hope all is well with each of you. The mic is open:


About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: http://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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12 Responses to Discussion #12: The Big Why

  1. Tilly Bud says:

    I write because the words won’t leave me alone until I get them down on paper.

  2. anl4 says:

    I think the reason I write is to find out what I am thinking. I often surprise myself, as I’m not even aware until I write it down. (Chilling isn’t it?)

    I find I am full of words, and to write them down, seems to straighten the path for my day, like a different kind of compass. I find out where I’ve been, or at least get some idea.

    I like to read books that contribute new ideas for me to think about. Get out of myself. Get a new perspective.

    Yes, there seems to be an ebb and a flow to the creative energy. Sometimes we have to step back, and sometimes we “have” to get behind the plow and PLOW! A season for all things.

    Since we talked about “critique.” I am still thinking about negative words and how powerful they are. They can stop an army in its’ tracks, and for sure shut us down. Can cause a blogger to leave the neighborhood, and we have lost a voice. So how can we learn to communicate with each other, without negative words? And when someone says something that hurts, how can we communicate that, without retreating? We are not born with the “right” to hurt, but we are certainly born with the “ability”, without even trying. So how to learn to hold each other tenderly, to be supportive, even when we feel “something” should be said? Perhaps, like the list of taboo words we should make a list, of words that hurt if someone said them to us, dig a hole and bury them, and just not say them?

    The neighborhood is very important to us all. A place to share, learn, to give what we have, and to take what we need.

  3. Irene says:

    Because it’s like having your finger in the pie.

    That’s the funny thing. When you write, you have a finger in it.

    The pie in the sky.

    You could lick it. I could lick it.

    And if you stop, the pie disappears.

  4. Pingback: Why write? | lost in translation

  5. pmwanken says:

    Oh, Irene…..I love that! “…if you stop, the pie disappears.” These past couple weeks I’ve felt like the pie is disappearing. As I’ve mentioned before (now I can’t remember where — if here, or in comments somewhere?) that I feel like my “groove” has become a “rut” — and I want the groove back.

    Reading this post of questions, and the responses thus far, sent me back to an earlier post on my blog…several of them, in fact. Back when my blog was more “ponderings” than “poetry.” Here’s a link to the post about my discovery of writing…poetry, in particular.



  6. Mike Patrick says:

    I worked in an ugly environment, and simply reading poetry balanced some of it out. Seeking that balance probably explains why I prefer rhyme and meter. Symmetry is beautiful on its own, but when powerful word selections and arrangements are added, something special happens within me.

    I started writing to get closer to that feeling. I didn’t know it would change me. The search for those rhymes, rhythms, and special words forced me to open internal doors I didn’t know existed. What is it worth to see brighter colors or hear music from the clouds? I write poetry because it awakens that within me.

    My metamorphose did not end with poetry. It erupted in all forms of prose too. My word selection became much more accurate and nuanced. Associations became far-reaching and fanciful. I find I can no longer turn sensations off at the end of a poem or a page. I live with them throughout the day; I remember my dreams at night. That is why I write poetry.

    Do I believe my poetry can change or alter the world? No. Probably not. But the collective “we” of present-day poetry writers might. The blogosphere may revive a previously ailing art form. Somewhere along the line, it became fashionable for poetry to be arcane and difficult to decipher. Until this generation, less motivated readers have simply tuned out and turned off. It was easier to say, “I don’t like poetry,” than admit, “I don’t understand this stuff.” Only a tiny minority of the blog poets have fallen into the arcane trap, leaving vast seas of reader-friendly poems. More people are becoming interested in poetry or coming back to it after years of avoidance. I’m seeing an explosion of new poetry blogs—new enough I can go back a month or two and begin reading posts from the Genesis. We might not change the world, but we can continue poetry’s continuity for another few centuries. That would be enough for me.

    • Tilly Bud says:

      Mike, what a great comment.

      I think you are right about the blogosphere. We may not all be great poets, but we are all poets, and that’s a pretty wonderful thing to be.

  7. margo roby says:

    I am compelled. Like Tilly Bud says, “the words won’t leave me alone” and Mike, when he says that everything is that much brighter, awakens him. When I am anywhere, see, smell, hear, touch anything, my mind thinks poem. I walk, drive, relax, thinking poem. I can no more turn that off than cut off a part of me.

    I like what Annell writes about the care with which we must handle each others poems. One way is to learn to put everything as a suggestion, rather than saying something needs to happen. I usually ask the writer if they have considered something, or I suggest they try an alternative, or I say [and this may be a touchy area] I am not sure about a line and how it works. That’s another thing, that we approach each poem as to how it works to convey whatever it is conveying. That makes it somewhat more objective. And, earlier I think several of us suggested we let each other know our comfort level. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I just want to know if the poem is clear on point x” or “Does this one line work?” or “Tear this apart, please.”


  8. Pingback: Friday Freeforall: Prompting Poets and Poetry « Margo Roby: Wordgathering

  9. R.Ross says:

    I am sure everyone who writes has a different answer to that question. For me it is because I want to and at some level probably, because I must although it is more than I am impelled to write than compelled to write.

    I think like many forms of creative expression one is either hardwired to write or one is not. Perhaps it is like any skill, or gift, if one can, one should and one does. The level of the skill is not important, merely the honouring of it.

    There are many forms of creative expression and writing is merely one of them and not necessarily the ‘best’ if best is a word which can be used in this instance.

    In some ways I think painting or pottery or other such ‘observed’ arts are better because one may have an impression and an appreciation in an instant while with a book, it takes time and effort. Perhaps that is what makes stories so much more valuable; nothing worthwhile comes without some effort.

    And poetry is of course the written version of such ‘instant appreciation’ of creativity for much can be said, shown, inferred, suggested, displayed, wrought or revealed in very few words.

    Perhaps, with creative expression one does not need to have reasons or even understanding because it is enough to simply ‘do.’ To make manifest that which is within; to seek to create beauty and to reveal something new.

    Every creative act is perfect in itself and innocent in its source. No two poems, books, paintings or pieces of pottery are ever the same…. even if produced by the same person. To that end they reflect the wondrous creativity of our world where every single human being, flower, grain of sand or snowflake is unique unto itself.

    Sometimes I think we talk about art or creativity too much when what we should do is experience it, either as our own expression of creativity or by extension, appreciating the creativity of others.

    Why does not matter. What we create matters, for our own sakes always and possibly for the sake of others.

    This world is a pure and constant expression of the creative act and we, as participants and observers in that world are co-creators. We simply choose how and when we co-create.

  10. vivinfrance says:

    I write because I can’t stop – like Tilly says, the words won’t leave me alone. I also find that finishing a poem or story leaves me on a tremendous ‘high’. I’ve never done drugs, but it must be something like this writing feeling. The other reason I write is to communicate with other people. Sharing poetry is therapeutic.

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