This is the 2nd of the writing exercises from the book: Crafting The Personal Essay, By Dinty Moore . Why Do You Write explores the motive, feeling and the intent behind writing. Click here to read Category: Writing Exercises
Why Do You Write
Terry Tempest Williams writes in her essay “Why I write’ : I write to discover. I write to uncover..”
Why I write comes from a place very deep in my childhood. It started with me being an introverted, shy, eldest child of my parents. They were newly transplanted from the town and village in the bowels of Andhra Pradesh. Madras was an alien city, to which my mom as a new bride had to adapt along with the responsibilities and large family she married into, plus having to deal with a father-in-law who had dementia or Alzheimer’s we don’t know now for certain. All of this translated into a fear, a paranoia, and an excessive cautious behavior modeled onto their first child, me.
I was quiet, and I still am. I tend to live in my head more than my family would like for me to. Introverts aren’t necessarily loners, but most loners are. At the core, I believe I was an introvert. As a young adult and parent, I became an ambivert. Leave me to my natural settings, and I would rather stay quiet with a book or some craft than party. Marrying into a more quieter family did not help one bit, and so here we are.
Books were a natural form of expression. I lived inside of books. Inside the characters, inside the scenes, inside their stories. So naturally, I wrote to express myself. Back then, journaling was called, “writing in your diary”. It contained your thoughts, and day’s happenings. Everything was fine, until I started writing about boys. About the neighborhood boys, and those furtive glances and me being the center of their attention. Mom happened to read and all hell broke loose. She worried. What if these confessions would be used against me by an evil villain like in the movies of back then. Blackmail. Extortion. Family destroyed. You get the drift. For a teenager, that hurt. I lose the comfort that came from writing. My parents forbade me to write. It was stifling, and I did not write for a long time.
Years later, in a different country, and managing kids and college life, the internet happened and I found a space to write on Sulekha’s CoffeeHouse, a forum. In 2004, I discovered blogger. There was no turning back and the torrent flowed. My best writing of the flow kind was here from 2007-2010 and then it morphed some more.
Writing brought me expression. Writing gave me the clarity that I needed as a child and then as a 30 year old. Today, as a 50 year old, I have gained a clarity over the years that does not compel me to journal the emotions, to tease, to understand. I still prefer writing my thoughts out as emails. My family, kids et al, do not appreciate it as they are all vocal and articulate in expressing their thoughts just as they think them. I still occasionally struggle, and especially with relationships I hold close. Simpler thoughts are easier, but when it’s a turmoil, conflict or serious, then words on paper (or screen like so) are my best friends.
I occasionally wonder why I haven’t published yet. Then I remember to publish, one needs content and that, is something I have plenty of, but without a plot. Until I find it, I will write and now renew my vows to writing, on my blog, and wherever I can.
I sincerely hope I will be able to read, absorb and can learn how to write a good personal essay by the time am done with the book.