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(bits and pieces of ) WHY I WRITE | BRIAN DOYLE
I look over the essays I have published over the course of twenty years of diligent scribbling and am astonished at their riotous incoherence...If there is a theme in all this it completely eludes the author, who feels that he has wandered into a pathless forest and is thrashing his way home armed with only a pen.
Which is sort of the point. Thrashing toward the light with a sharp pen is what writers do.
Why? [why write]
Because, as the fine essayist E. M. Forster said, "How can I know what I think until I see what I say?"
Because there have been times in my life when the only way I could handle rage and horror and fear was to write it down and thus fend it off, fight it, force it to retreat, understand it, hurt it.
Because writing is a form of contemplation and a form of prayer.
Because writing occasionally leads to rapture.
Because writing is a way to connect electrically and directly with other people, which we crave, while generally preserving privacy, which we also crave. ("Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself," wrote Walt Whitman.)
Because writing is a form of performance that does not demand physical grace or youth, and writers, despite their craving for privacy, like to be the center of attention, usually intermittently, rather than continually like film stars and Bill Clinton.
Because writers are, deep in their souls, didacts who itch to deliver the Unvarnished Truth and cannot help but unburden themselves of that which burns in their hearts. Writers are preachers.
...It's what I do, and what I love to do, and no one else can do it quite like I do.
Better, perhaps--but not with my particular flavor and music, and somehow, in a way I do not wholly understand, that is important, and in a very real sense miraculous, and necessary.