When I find myself thinking about writers–about why so many of us are here–I find myself asking why is it that we write? Answering this question is simultaneously simple and impossible, personal and universal.
We write because words make us simultaneously giggle and blubber; we write because we have tiny beings called characters in our heads pounding their miniature fists against our brains as they beg to have their voices heard; we write because when we find words that work well together, we want to marry them on a riverbank on a sunny June afternoon; we write because if we didn’t, we would be pathological liars; we write because we have an odd habit of twisting words like licorice, tweaking, cajoling, poeticizing, intensifying, and making simple sentence structures shine like new; we write because the Muse is calling; we write because a book we read in 3rd or 6th or 11th grade revolutionized the existence of literature in the world; we write because we want to be bestsellers; we write because the world needs to know what we have to say; we write because we have to.
Now, maybe when you find yourself in the midst of accomplished authors, you have a desire to pick their brains like monkeys searching for nits of lice. Maybe with Scarlett O’Hara as your witness, you will never be rejected again, or perhaps you do not want to go gentle into that good write. Curiouser and Curiouser, indeed, I know, but again, it’s a curious journey we embark upon.
Hello world, I have something to say, and you know what? I bet you do too. I, for one, cannot wait to hear what comes out.
(My opening remarks for the 2010 James River Writers Conference, which I chaired.)