Actually, I don’t get that question very much. But I do get a lot of raised eyebrows, a lot of “You whatty-what, now?”s, and, from time to time, one of those amused smiles from well-meaning people who obviously don’t get it at all. Still, I can understand why you might wonder why I write here, instead of in a journal or a diary or a letter under my floorboard that someone would love to find next century.
To be honest, I never wanted you to read it. Don’t be offended— nobody was allowed to read it. It was, at its beginnings, very much a diary, a place where I could type my ever-changing teenaged emotions. (Trust me, you weren’t missing anything.) Simple as it sounds, I liked blogging because writing makes my hand cramp after awhile, and well, I’m not known for being short-winded. But somewhere along the way, it changed. (Conveniently enough, I believe this was around the time that I got my hormones under control.) Suddenly, I wasn’t writing in an untouchable sphere anymore, safe from links and search terms and readers. Suddenly, I was writing to you. For you, even. But I was also writing for me.
I can’t really tell you when I decided that I wanted to be a writer, but I can tell you that once I decided, that was it. I am smitten with the written word, with its constructs and mystery and downright unparalleled ability to move its reader, whether it’s backward or forward or to a place he or she has never dared to go. That’s as close as I can get to an explanation of why I want to write, but there is so much more. There’s the semicolons, the libraries, the camaraderie, the feeling in your throat because he could have written it a thousand different ways, but he chose the one that was just so perfect. I can tell you that it comes as naturally as singing in the car or sneezing in April. It’s something I can’t keep from doing, no matter how those around me feel about it. It’s that magic that lights up my eyes, the thing that instantly flies me from I’m not good enough to I must have been made to do this. It’s what keeps me up at night, rolling verbs and adjectives around until they fall in such perfect order that to you, it seems effortless, like they must have been that way all along. Even if I’m never particularly good, I know I can’t ever stop. You can’t control a passion like that. I don’t think you’re even supposed to even try. So I haven’t fought it. A writer, I’ve decided, is what I’ll become. And I started here.
And that’s where the beautiful part comes in— that’s where it becomes about this blog. Sure, I could tell you that I love it because it’s mine, because I get to decide what to capitalize and by golly, no editor can take me down. That’s true. In between writing gigs, this has been the place where I’ve fled, filing my thoughts and desires and beliefs, only to write another paragraph announcing I’ve changed my mind. Because it’s mine, I could do that. There are no rules. I can even take Facebook breaks while I work, but I’ll be the first one to tell you the pay stinks. Still, space isn’t the essence of why I do this. Any notebook, especially those lovely flowery ones from Barnes and Noble, could give me a place that’s mine. The real reason I’m here, the reason I’ve let you in, is because of what you make me.
You make me a writer.
I could write all day long, but until I’ve seen the face of someone who has read, someone who says, “I understood what you were trying to say and well— well, it’s kind of what I wanted to say, too,” until I know that these words have taken somebody by the hand, I’m not a writer. I’ve heard of some of those math types who say, “It’s all about plugging in the numbers and coming out with the right answer.” It’s like that for me, too. Your laugh, your “Mmhm, exactly,” the tug in your chest that caused you to suck in a breath: These are my answers. It’s what I’ve been after all along. I never thought I would need comments or “likes” or a Facebook message to remind me that someone was reading. I never thought I’d need a reader at all. But the exhilaration that’s mine from writing completes every time someone tells me, “I read. I read it, and it was beautiful.” And suddenly, in that moment, I know: I must be a writer. This must be what it feels like because I can’t imagine anything better. This must be what I was made to do.
And I know, without a doubt, that I want to do this for the rest of my life. So reader? Thank you.