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why do I write?

When the table turns: why do I write?

by Judy
September 29, 2014

It is now two years since Andrea and I started this blog site of When the Table Turns. Since then I’ve been writing almost every two weeks. It’s been a powerful commitment. A lifeline really. Why do I write? Why, as a caregiver, has writing this blog become so important?

In contemplating this I thought of something I read after Nora Ephron died a few years ago. She grew up in a household of writers—both her mother and father—and apparently they steered all the children towards writing from a very young age. The mother said, “Everything is copy.” And I remember—I am paraphrasing now—Nora saying that her parents did not want them to indulge ever in feelings of self-pity, but instead to look upon their life as material for story. In one quote Nora Ephron says. “My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be the comic stories the next.” 

I found this very illuminating. Yes, writing can be a vehcile to elevate one’s life. For myself, I first started writing for the blog site a few weeks after my mom suffered a major stroke. It was a very intense time. To begin writing at that point was like unplugging a stopped up well of water…so much had been going on inside that needed an outlet. Of course there is always talking to friends/family, but even then, certain things don’t get expressed. Writing has a way to give one some space, or at least the potential to do that. It gives space and can open up a place in oneself that sees, understands and accommodates more. For example, even in the midst of intense emotional turmoil, I found there were still moments of sweet encounters with my mother that I could give words to and by sharing these words, in a mysterious way, not be so alone. Some light comes into the picture. It can raise the human drama to another level—a universal one.

As time went on and the intensity lessened, I found the process of writing also stimulates thinking and takes it further in a way that reveals more depth and perspective. It’s like having a conversation with another but in this case it’s a conversation or communion with oneself into areas that you didn’t even know were there until you started to write. Writing has the power to uncover seemingly dormant landscapes as well as revealing landscapes yet to be explored. I find myself tapping into and giving expression to areas of understanding that have ripened over the years and also, as a caregiver, tapping into new unexplored areas with all its challenges and questions.

Writing now every two weeks, when at times there doesn’t seem to be anything to write about, forces me to dig deeper, look closer. Sometimes a subject is so close to me that I don’t even recognize its significance until I begin. I can begin with the smallest, most mundane or most painful detail, but “forcing” myself to write means that this detail expands. I set off a process in consciousness that begins to work on me whether I am writing or not. It’s like opening a door and once open this consciousness begins to have a life of its own.

So why do I write? Am I writing for others or am I writing mainly for myself? An interesting question. If I had to answer only one way, I would probably say I am writing mainly for myself, but that isn’t the total answer at all. When I know that what I write is going to be read, it gives an added impetus to create something that has value as well as forcing me to attend to the form - to edit, revise, cut out or add. The whole process of creativity has to kick in and part of the process means refining and digging deeper for the right word, phrase or meaning. It means digging deeper to see if I am being true to my experience. 

It’s a paradox. I don’t write only for myself and at the same time I don’t even know half the people who are reading what I write and yet it’s important there are people who read and connect with me. It is a communication with others, but ultimately it is also something that you want and need to do for its own sake and for the sake of humankind. It’s an expression in the end of love and what you care about most—it is love for the other, love for the truth, for delving deep inside oneself as authentically as one can. After a while it is so clear that it is beyond you; that in writing you are touching humankind in general, touching and being touched and bringing more light into the world.


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