Why I Write

I've found many reasons to write in my life. I've written while traveling alone, staying at hostels across Italy and marveling at the vibrant kindness of strangers. I've lived in Morocco and Argentina, and I've written through culture shock and through not speaking the language, desperate I'd never understand.  I've also written through the loneliness of moving to new places, following family for new opportunities, and leaving friends and comfortable spaces behind.  

I've written through the exhaustion and worry of becoming a new mother, when I placed so much weight on my shoulders I wonder how I stood up every day. I've also written to try to catch my girls' fleeting childhoods, hoping to hold as many whispery memories as I could before they slipped away - the scent of their soft hair, their little mittens reaching for snowflakes.

There were many times I wrote through gritted teeth. I'd decided I wanted to be a Writer, and I had to create something. There were also many times when I didn't write. Although after awhile, I'd always somehow find myself writing about not writing.

Lately though, I've sensed a shift. I delight in putting a scene together, watching the images appear at the very moment I need them. Time disappears as I race to catch the words of a sentence. I like playing with words, too, rummaging around to find the perfect one. It could be "sapphire" or "cerulean." Or maybe it's simply blue. I love to tinker with the order, too, making the phrase sound just right, and I get a delicious thrill when a sentence clicks into place.  Sometimes when I write, I am filled with awe, momentarily taken aback at the beauty of an image. Other times, I feel a sense of wonder. Like a child, clapping her hands. Look at how pretty that sentence is!  

My sister and I used to spend long afternoons in our room, spinning stories onto loose-leaf paper and hurrying to read them aloud. Now, it seems I've found my way back there again, creating characters and dialogue, playing with sentences and words. I'm enchanted by writing, and when I pull out my notebook and begin to write, I move into joy. I write because it makes my soul sing.


This article first appeared in Mary Kay Shanley's newsletter Words and Other Worldy Endeavors