The Grey Area
In my opinion, the real question behind “why do I write?” is really “why do I do anything that I do?” because it seems that writing is as significant to my day as my beloved morning coffee or cherished afternoon nap. One might argue that there could only be two reasons behind a particular action: because you have to do it, or because you want to do it. I’ve never been the type of person to see things in this black and white, pick a side and stick to it, kind of way. I live in a sort of grey area, and writing is how I express my spurts of strong opposition, zealous interest, and everything in between.
I guess you could say I write because I want to, but that doesn’t even begin to explain everything I love about writing, or account for the fact that for the majority of my life I was writing at the direction of a teacher rather than channeling my own ambitions. The great thing about a grey area is that it offers many shades and dimensions where one can exist. It might just be my way of avoiding answering this question directly, but I truly believe that my motivation for writing exists in multiple forms, and that each day I discover a new reason why I love (and sometimes temporarily dislike) this powerful form of expression.
Shade 1: Everything has a place.
I’m going to admit up front that I’m an organizational freak. In my mind, everything (seriously, everything) has a place where it belongs. From my desk drawers to the file folders on my computer, my mind is at peace when categories are created, items are arranged correctly, and I know where to find what I am looking for. I recently came to the realization that one of the beauties of writing is that all aspects of it have a place as well. Titles go at the top of the page, headers appear in specific corners, and each word—whether we realize it or not—is carefully placed in order to effectively express our thoughts and emotions. Even when we as writers defy the rules of grammar or organization we are still consciously choosing the placement of words and punctuation, therefore deciding right then and there where everything belongs. Some people might not ever notice or care to understand why they arrange their written words in a specific way, but for me this understanding provides ultimate satisfaction. The organization of my writing has always been very important to me. I constantly find myself rearranging sentences and paragraphs, and in fact I’m currently wondering if by the time of my final draft this sentence will end up existing on a different part of the page. Whether or not I was ever aware that my organizationally minded self exists in my writing will always be a mystery, but now it seems I can’t even begin typing without already thinking ahead about where certain details should go.
Shade 2: A moment that can’t be argued.
I’ve never considered myself to be a very argumentative person, but my writing is one of the few places where I feel comfortable fully disclosing my opinions about a particular topic. It could be that it’s easier to type a controversial belief rather than say it aloud; but there is something to be said about that brief moment where whatever I write cannot be argued. Before anyone has read my first draft, checked my essay for grammatical mistakes, or seen my published articles, every word I have written is right and true. I don’t think I have appreciated these moments as much as I should, especially since we live in a world where asking questions that lead to arguments is inevitable. I’m not saying that arguing our position with others is a bad thing, in fact I love that writing allows me to do so in such an open way. It’s just a relief to know that writing can provide me some breathing room. It gives me time to reflect without the distraction of what other people think or want me to believe. Whether I love to write because it allows me to express my feelings, or I express my feelings more easily because I enjoy the act of writing them into stories and essays, is still a little unclear to me. And in this very instant as I type, I am the only one with the power to argue these ambiguous thoughts.
Shade 3: To be determined.
I do not believe that my grey area is completely shaded yet. With only twenty years behind me, my passion as well as my motives for writing are constantly growing and changing. Although I tend to try to keep control of everything, I appreciate this open-ended adventure that I am embarking on as a writer. I write to explore the areas between right and wrong, yes or no, this shade or that shade. And through my writing I have ultimately taken something that I was required to do and allowed it to become something that I am passionate about. I consider myself lucky; it is rare to enjoy doing something that has for so long been a task rather than an action done by choice. I am thankful for my grey area. I am safe here.