My wife sent me to the basement last week with a specific mission: find the Fischer-Price musical radio that plays “Picnic Time for Teddy Bears” that both of our children listened to when they were young. Yes, she was trying to find it for the grandson.
I descended into a chamber piled with almost a quarter-century of stuff. I eventually found the radio in a box on a shelf in an area lined with storage shelves and boxes (and no, I didn’t find it in the first box; I found it in the ninth box). But before I tackled the storage shelves, I thought I would find it where virtually all of the toys from our two sons’ childhoods are kept – under the basement stairs.
It was an area that had not been disturbed for 12 years or more. I didn’t find dust bunnies; I found dust Godzillas.
Going through the boxes of old toys was fun, and a lot of the toys, particularly the Fischer-Price play sets, are in really good condition. (“Stop playing with the Fischer-Price farm and find that radio.” “I’m not playing with the Fischer-Price farm; I’m playing with the Fischer-Price airport.”)
Stacked with the boxes of old toys was an unmarked box. I looked inside, and found two side-by-side stacks of documents – speeches and articles I had written up to the mid-1980s, back in those pre-historic days before desktop computers. Speeches typed on a typewriter. Some of the very first speeches I had written when we lived in Houston. Speeches about oil and issues and United Way campaigns and chemicals and education and agriculture.
Each speech tells two stories: the story of the speech itself and the audience it was given to, and the story of the creation of the speech. For some, I could only remember having written them. For others, however, I could remember all the details – sitting with the speaker, research, working with executive secretaries, drafting outlines, fighting with the Law or HR department over sections and wording, what happened when the speech was given, problems I had writing them and rewriting them, the times the speaker was a joy to work with and the times when the speaker wasn’t.
Looking through those speeches was looking through a window to the time when I was 25 to 35 years old. It’s like looking at old family photographs.
And I was reminded of why I write.
I write to earn a living. Or at least writing contributes to my earning a living.
I write to preserve memory, even if the memory will last no longer than my own lifetime.
I write to make sense of the world, and the world desperately needs much making sense of, even if it’s only for me.
I write to connect to others, to use the words to create relationships and build community.
I write to express the emotion I often cannot express though speech and tears and laughter.
I write to tell a story, to help others see what I see, to see what others see.
I write because writing is an act of creation, and it moves me closer to the Creator because every story has an “in the beginning.”
I write to encourage, because it is the gift I’m expected to give.
I write to understand, because reading alone is not sufficient to achieve understanding.
I write as a kind of prayer, and I write as a kind of worship.
I write to make myself vulnerable, and never am I weaker than when I allow others to read my writing.
I write because it is what has been put into my heart.
We’ve come to the final chapters and the grand finale of the discussion of Julia Cameron’s The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life. Laura Boggess has been leading the discussion over at The High Calling Blogs. Cameron’s book has been a good read, and it’s been a good way – a disciplined way – to think about why I write. And I’ve concluded that writing is less of a right – and much more of a privilege and a responsibility.
What I Should Be Writing by L.L. Barkat at Seedlings in Stone.
Choices and Voices by Nancy Kourmoulis at Treasures of Darkness.
A Different Story by Lyla Lindquist at Inside Out.
A Contract for a Life of Writing Bliss by Erin at Filling My Patch of Sky.
High Stakes by Cassandra Frear at The Moonboat Cafe.