This post originally appeared on Red Sofa Literary’s NaNoWriMo series.
To discover what I really think
I often gain insight and clarity through the practice of writing. Writing tells the truth. Early drafts may start vague and foggy with throat clearing and avoidance. Editing through to later drafts burns off the slough until I realize what I actually believe and want to say.
To insert a pause
I rarely have anything helpful to say right away. I cannot find words at the speed of social media feeds. I watch my feeds, listen, dig a bit, ask questions, do more reading, sit, and think. Do I have anything unique to say that would add to the silence? There is a place for me to enter into the conversation as a writer once the initial buzz has evaporated.
To live life twice
I first self-identified as a writer while living in Uruguay. Strange things would happen and I’d think to myself, “This is going to make a great story.” Indeed, those stories became my first book. I value a reflective, contemplative life, acknowledging how time changes memory. Writing memories into story infuses my life with beauty and meaning while living it and then again while remembering.
To see the world differently
It’s my job to notice what I’m noticing. I have a sense that in this wild, wonderful life I am both an actor and a spectator in the front row seat. You will find what you are looking for, and as a writer on the lookout for stories I find the good stuff—beautiful, tragic, human, and true moments that I am grateful to live and witness.
I write for me, but I share my writing for others. Out in the world, interacting with others, the piece takes on a life of its own that I have no control over. Readers can digest the words on their own time and bring their own stories to the conversation. My words can take not the shape of someone else’s pain, creating an unexpectedly powerful and lovely connection over time and space.
To add beauty to the world
Art is inherently good, and writing is art. When we bring to life something that had not yet existed, we grow. I am a better version of me when I am reading, writing, and taking myself seriously as a creator.
Because I have to
Writers often say they would do something else if they could, and I am no different. Writers write. Journals are meant to be filled. Stories are meant to be told. The writing process is often painful and arduous, but I am driven to it again and again.
Ultimately our job is to be entertainers. You don’t get points for a great story, you have to write it well. It’s a thrill to write a story in a way that really captures people and elevates them momentarily to a different place. Maybe now more than ever, we are in desperate need of entertaining stories in all their messy beauty.
Ellie Roscher is the author of PLAY LIKE A GIRL and HOW COFFEE SAVED MY LIFE. Her writing appears in several complication books, Bearings, Embodied Faith, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence in Writing and an MA in Theology from Luther Seminary and lives in Minneapolis with her spouse and two sons.