Why I Write
I’ve been writing since first grade, when I first tried my hand at creative writing. My teacher must have been impressed, because she told my parents I was going to grow up to be a writer. At the time, I was planning on becoming either an astronaut or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. (My dad was really hoping that of the two, the astronaut thing would work out.)
Since first grade, I’ve written for yearbooks, newspapers, magazines, blogs, journals, radio, and other media. I even teach college students how to write. But why do I do this? Why do I write?
Here are a few of my “whys”:
I write because I don’t like not writing. When I became a stay-at-home mom in 2000, I thought I was “just” going to be a stay-at-home mom. (I put “just” in quotes because I know there is nothing “just” about being a stay-at-home mom.) I thought I would take care of my daughter, take her to the library and the park, and maybe join a moms’ group in my community. And I did all of those things. But I missed writing. I missed it so much that it surprised me. One night, I could not sleep. My 30th birthday was coming up, and thoughts were racing through my head about reaching that milestone. I finally got up and, in just a few minutes, wrote a piece reflecting on coming of age in my hometown. I sent it to my hometown newspaper, where it was printed as a guest column. That experience told me that while being a stay-at-home mom was great, I also needed to keep writing. I contacted my local newspaper and began writing features and a weekly column. I ended up writing throughout my stay-at-home-mom years. It was nice to have a little extra money, but much more importantly, it kept that part of my brain working while the rest of my brain was absorbed with play dates, Caillou and Goldfish crackers.
I write because we live in a time in which writers can be more independent than ever. Gone are the days of having to convince a publisher or editor to publish our work to get it out to the masses. We can write, publish and promote our work with just a few clicks of a button.
I write because I am a believer in the power of the written word. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a pastor in my town decided to take Texas barbecue up to the Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, where workers were going through the unimaginable task of sorting rubble from the Twin Towers. I wrote an article for the newspaper about what the pastor wanted to do, and the morning the article was printed, he was still several thousand dollars short. By noon that day, he had more than enough money to make the trip because people had read my article and flooded the pastor’s church with donations. My writing had moved people to action. This happens all the time. People read something and act, and the world can become a better place as a result. Words have power. Knowing this, how can we not write?
I write because it’s what people do. Think about it. People have been writing things down since the beginning of time. We have the Bible and other ancient texts because people have always been writers. When one of my students says, “I’m just not a writer,” I say, “Yes, you are. Because you are a person.” Writing is a central part of the human experience, and it’s something in which we ALL participate—whether we realize it or not.
I write because people have always encouraged me to. By college, my dreams of being an astronaut or Dallas Cowboys cheerleader had given way to something else (thankfully). I began writing for the campus newspaper, and it wasn’t long before I became a journalism major. One week, I had a few days off from class and drove to the town where I had gone to elementary school. My first-grade teacher—the one who predicted I would be a writer—was still teaching there. I walked into the school, showed her some of my newspaper articles and said, “You were right.” She was one of many along the way who have been supportive of my writing. If people in your life are telling you to write, listen to them.
Next week, watch for my friends Meagan McGovern and Mary Beth Picker to publish why they write. Here is a little about each of them:
She has lived all over the country but has finally found home, in a 1950s farmhouse in an idyllic town called Ferndale, Washington, complete with a barn, a silo, cows and a slew of barn cats.
She had a hideous childhood as the oldest of four girls and had a wild ride of it, marked by insane parents, horrible events, lots and lots of moving about the country, and long stretches where they all had a lot of fun. She writes a little about that, too.
Meagan used to be a writer for newspapers, and a copy editor, and she loved every minute of it. Now she blogs about farm life, having a happy childhood in your 40s, homeschooling and her son's recovery from autism.
She still loves every minute of it.
Well, OK. There are few moments involving chickens that aren't so hot. But most of it is wonderful.
She is passionate about clean food, dirty politics, thoughtful, kind parenting, growing and cooking the food you eat, homeschooling and travel.
She is not easy. She is not always on time. She channels Mrs. Weasley, Gloria Steinem and a dash of Scarlett O'Hara. She has red hair and an Irish temper and she is the messiest person you will ever meet.
She and her husband Mark have three children, a couple of cows, and goats and sheep and chickens and dogs and cats. None of them listen. Her family calls her husband "Saint Mark," and they're not far off.
She blogs about life on Stone Soup Farm at meagan-mcgovern.squarespace.com.
She and her husband, Casey, have three young kids and are about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
Follow her blog at www.scribblingbarefoot.com.