Saturday, March 22, 2014

Why Do I Write? Or How to Defend A Cliche

Cliches Reconsidered: From Punch Magazine 1885

            That’s the standard question every writer is asked and feels compelled to answer, one about which all writers ultimately do write essays. Sometimes, even after having written such an essay, the writer will revisit reasons for writing with some regularity. But the topic, Why Do I Write, is far from a modern-day quest. It dates back – way, way back in time, possibly even as far back as writing itself does.

            We’ve all read numerous cliché answers. Among them: “I write to discover who I am, to gain insight into myself, to re-create myself, to make sense of the world around me, to understand what I am or to heal from trauma.

            I write – and have written, for so many of the same reasons but I’ve also attempted to write for a host of totally unrelated reasons. Like most writers, the solitary act of writing does help me manage grief, anger, and at times devastating disappointments or what - during the act of writing, seems like unmanageable problems. I’ve written to record my journeys – physical and emotional, as a vehicle by which to see where I’ve been, to assess the place in which I have arrived and as a mechanism to strengthen my resolve about where I’m hoping to go.

            During happy times, although easy to resist writing, I’ve oftem felt compelled to write specifically about the happiness and in great detail. It’s more challenging to write when we're happy. I know it is for me because what I want most is to stay in that moment. Taking time away from the feeling in order to write is a risk that I may not regain that happy moment. But we also lose sight of the benefits to be gained by taking that time. Isn’t it possible that during sadder more difficult times, we’re likely to reread the happier times, reminding ourselves how we arrived at them?

            Sure, these reasons are all clichés of sorts. And sure, most of us throughout the entirety of our educations, have been taught, to avoid those phrases referred to as clichés. We’re convinced that cliches are offensive, tedious, and smack of undeveloped writing skills.

            The reasons we list for writing might be clichés but our answers are totally unique. Our essay answers to “Why Do I Write?” are anything but cliches. Note the irony: Isn’t the question itself but a huge cliche? 

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