why do you write?

thoughtsPIN ITI’ve found myself thinking a lot this week. thinking about the purpose of all this. Why we write. Why we share. Why we put personal things out into the big wide world of the internet. Why we share so much of ourselves and our lives and our hearts with people we’ve never even met or distant friends who we have on our Facebook friends list but wouldn’t recognise in the street. I’ve been pondering this kind of life-writing, the power of sharing life, the “art” of blogging. Before I began my first blog about five years ago I was a writer of a different kind. I was a fiction writer. I used to write plays and films and short stories. I used to write a lot of poetry. I used to write my heart and my feelings and my angst through the guise of characters that were often very close to my own experience, and sometimes far from it.

I used words to write what I didn’t yet have the courage to say in my own voice.

I used words to mask opinions I was still too scared to own.

Once I wrote a novel. It was a work in progress. It was beautiful in parts and childish in others. It needed a lot of work. I was more than 45,000 words in when I lost both copies of the digital manuscript. It’s gone now. All but around 10,000 words of a very preliminary draft. So many words lost into space. So many pieces of my own heart written into characters. so many stories I had heard and coveted. so many tangled thoughts written into stories that filled a large document. I was proud of it and although I received a scathing email once from someone I cared about who basically told me it was total crap… I was still proud of it. I shelved it when I fell pregnant. My mind and heart suddenly all consumed by a different obsession… but I always intended to return to it, once my heart had mended and my courage had returned. But before I could, it was lost. One copy was stolen and the other was destroyed by one of those lovely internet viruses. Both in the space of a week. so many hours of creativity. So many carefully crafted sentences. So many ideas. So many feelings. All gone.

I often wonder if I have it in me to ever write fiction again. I don’t write it at all any more. I find I don’t have the time or the inclination. I suppose if I had the inclination I would probably find the time. Maybe it’s because I no longer care so much what people think of me. Maybe it’s because now I am comfortable enough in my own skin and my own thoughts to use my own voice for my opinions… maybe it’s because I don’t have any more stories in me. If I had the next big story in me perhaps I would shut down this blog and focus my energy on penning that novel that I know lives inside me somewhere. But I don’t.

Not right now anyway.

I often think about writing. I wonder why I do it. What the purpose of it all is. I used to wish had it in me to write a journal… You know the ones. the journals that span over many years. Written in beautifully handwritten script and perfectly bound. I’m one of those people that has started a thousand journals, but never been able to maintain them. I’m one of those people that loses them or dog ears them or rips out ideas and scribbles in the corners and has a thousand different handwriting styles that it looks like a thousand different people have scribbled their disjointed ideas all over the blue lined pages… I reinvented myself so often in my teens and early twenties that old journals always felt like they were no longer me. So I destroyed them or put them away or forgot to write in them and quickly they became strange portraits of old versions of myself that existed in a fleeting moment.

I once wrote a series of short stories that were given great critical acclaim at the university I was then studying. i was encouraged to submit them to creative writing journals. I did once. The journals weren’t happy with my formatting… I was turned down once and I didn’t have the strength of character to keep trying. to find the right fit. So I let them go.

Under the desk in my new home I have a plastic container that is filled with every hard copy of writing that i have ever done. it has old essays and creative writing journals from my studies. It has notebooks from when I used to read a lot and found myself thoroughly inspired by the angst and the joy and the influence of substances. from past lives. they have been read and reused and reinvented so many times it’s like an incomplete history of my life. So many things are missing. So many things lost. So many things destroyed.

I think about this blog often and wonder what the future holds for it. I wonder how long I will feel comfortable sharing so much of Bo’s life. it’s a tricky tightrope to balance on, sharing personal stories and life with the world. It’s something I’m forever looking at and I am constantly reassessing my decisions. Most of you probably don’t know that Bo’s given name isn’t Bo (it’s her middle name). I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that. There are many things about us that I hold sacred and close to my chest. Things that I don’t share here. We all find our own balance when it comes to privacy. We all make our choices. I think as long as you are happy to stand by your choices then it truly doesn’t matter what they are.

I started truly writing in my late teens. I started writing as a means to find a way out of pain. Later I wrote as a way to express love. At another stage in my life I wrote for money. Now I write with the hope that it will change something in the world… however small. With the hope that it will change something in myself or that it will inspire someone else to change something within themselves for the better. I write to grow. To grow not only myself but the world around me, if only in the smallest of ways… because I don’t think my life would feel full if I wasn’t growing.

I know lots of you are writers. Either public bloggy writers or private at home in a journal writers (or both).

So tell me (and each other)… Why do you write?



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  • September 4, 2013 - 7:11 am

    Alicia - hi sash. i’ve been questioning myself over this as well. why do i write? why do i photograph? why do i share? i think that initially it was because i wanted to show the beauty of motherhood and the love and i wanted everyone to feel it too… to be as happy as i am… then i started thinking of all these women who cannot have children and who might cry and feel pain when they see the photos of my son… and this thought made me really uncomfortable and sad and guilty. sometimes, i admit i share because actually i often feel so insecure as a mum, i doubt my choices and i fear that i am not doing my job properly… or even that i love too much and other times that i do not love enough… I am often struggling and I need a pat on my back or a few words of encouragement, I need approval. I am often, I feel, a lost mother… one that needs to reflect on paper and engage with reads of similar nature to make my choices and to find peace. Sometimes, I also worry that my need for documenting and sharing limits my participation in my child’s life… it’s difficult to be an observer and a participant at the same time… how do you do it?ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 10:41 am

    Maggie - Hey Sash,
    I have recently started writing for Charlotte and sharing photos with the world but after a few
    Conversations with family members and my partner I have made my blog private. Their reasons were that they weren’t keen on me sharing her photos with just anyone and they reminded me of the bad in the world.
    Unfortunately I couldn’t look past that bad and have kept my blog private. I wish I could just share it with my friends and family but its a difficult process to set them all up with access.
    I understand your concerns though, it’s a difficult decision.
    Mags xxxReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 11:37 am

    Lila - I write for a lot of reasons, for change, camaraderie, compassion and a record so that if something happens to me my children can learn more about me than just what I looked like and how I behaved they can hopefully see how I feel.
    There are things I keep private, but I also don’t let the fear of the bad stop me. I see people often saying they’ve stopped or wouldn’t start because of “bad” people out there but after my first marriage where the bad was inside the house and Ty’s stint in criminal law I don’t feel that the internet is more of a risk than many other activities that people would never stop just because something might happen.ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 12:11 pm

    Junette Austria - I write to express my feelings.ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 4:23 pm

    Michelle - I’m not a writer but I love to read and I love reading your blog.. You have an amazing gift of expressing yourself. Your sentences just flow and capture what is going on in your life without giving too much away. One day I hope you find your mojo again to start writing a fiction novel as I would read it in a heart beat.ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 5:13 pm

    Mercedes - I love this post and can relate so well. I lot a novel if been working on and it still makes me sick to my stomach when I think of it, although it was nowhere near 45,000 words! And I can never keep a journal either. In fact when I do find the bits and pieces of myself from before they often feel contrived and even embarrassing!

    I write because I can’t imagine not doing it. Sharing parts of my life with my twins seems natural And the connections I’ve made through my blog have been very valuable! I’m reading Brene Brown’s “I thought it was just me” and she talks about ‘shame resilience’ as having the courage to build connections and sharing our stories. I think it’s a great perspective for the blogging community, especially when sometimes blogging can feel a little ego-centric. (That book is life changing, by the way. I highly recommend it)ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 6:58 pm

    Lilybett - Sometimes I write because I want my life to be witnessed; sometimes I write because it makes me feel a part of a community; sometimes I write because an old fashioned baby book just doesn’t cut it; sometimes I write because I want to share or boast or ask questions; sometimes I write because I like the challenge and the risk of sharing my ideas with the world. I also feel that same thing that Lila mentioned above, that I want some record of myself for my boy and for my family in case something happened.

    I decided when I got pregnant that Dear Boy’s name wouldn’t be made public, and that means I am partly anonymous on my blog as well – I don’t share pictures of my face or of any of the other adults in my company – just my boy (and the odd stranger). I did this because there will come a time when I stop putting up pictures of him – when his face takes on the look of his adulthood, when he’s old enough to say ‘stop taking my pictures, Mum’. Of course, people who really want to track me or out me will no matter what I do – there are enough clues out there… but why make it easy for them? Mostly, I didn’t want to create a digital footprint for my boy when he may want that clean slate for himself as an adult. I didn’t want a google search of his name to reveal pictures of him as a toddler wearing a peg basket on his head (although those pictures will be going up soon).ReplyCancel

  • September 4, 2013 - 10:34 pm

    Steinsdotter`s Saga - I started my blog, so family and friends could follow our ivf tries, or babyproject as I call it.
    But the blog quickly became more.

    I love good photos (that’s one of the reasons I started following you). I recently bought a new camera, and strive to get to know it,, and take good photos myself to share with the world.

    I READ other blogs for inspiration, and try to put some back in the atmosphere.

    And are we not all, a little atentions seeking? 😉ReplyCancel

  • September 5, 2013 - 5:05 pm

    Mon - That’s beautiful, Sash! So many of us write or share in some way, or another, for so many reasons. To be able to write for growth, and to do it so honestly, so ‘nakedly’ and for others’ benefit – this is a gift. Many people lose touch with their ability and courage to be able to express their true selves; the highs and lows of life, and all the in-betweens. Thank you for being able to provide a mirror; to remind us that while we’re hanging on to some spinning ball called Earth, we’re doing it – life – together. M xReplyCancel

    • September 6, 2013 - 8:28 pm

      Sash - thank you lovely Mon 🙂 thank you. xoReplyCancel

  • September 5, 2013 - 10:55 pm

    Annabelle (Kate's friend) - ” I think, therefore, I am”? I write to see who I am and where I came from. I write to see where I am going. Writing can be a map to my inner landscape. And it is often surprising! Words are all we get to express that vast inner experience. It is a poor substitute for being, but it is all we have.ReplyCancel

  • September 9, 2013 - 8:32 am

    Art of Guesture: ON(LINE) COMMUNITY - […] a blog, in general, airs more on the side of selfish than not. It’s cool, I get that opinion. Sash asked why we write. I write for all the reasons – to share, as catharsis, for empathy, to practice the skill, to […]ReplyCancel

  • October 22, 2013 - 8:01 pm

    Subroto - This is something I was thinking about today. So I googled it. And came up with your blog post. It resonated with me in many ways. I write to fulfil a creative urge within me, to express myself and that’s also why I blog.ReplyCancel

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