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Desire, Need, Therapy, Escape, or Something Deeper?
"Whether you're keeping a journal or writing as a meditation, it's the same thing. What's important is you're having a relationship with your mind."- Natalie Goldberg
Over the many years I have been a writer, the question "Why do you write?" has been frequently asked of me. In fact, I have often asked it of myself. I thought I had a pretty pat explanation for my own case, at least until I began to query writer friends and actually do a bit of research.
I was careful to choose not only poets for my impromptu project, but to also include writers of all genres. Those who wrote books, poems, diaries, journals, travelogues, a news reporter, and even a cartoonist, were gathered in my net. Overwhelmingly, the common answer did not answer the question directly, but explained the circumstances that led the individual to begin writing. This spectrum of circumstances was varied as the individuals involved. Responses were similar to those with whom I had personally spoken and the majority of recorded statements were from writers, current and past. Many tales were interesting, but none addressed the fundamental question of why so many people are compelled to put words to paper.
My earnest, yet unscientific assessment is that we write because we have to. Methods, mechanism, and/or motivation are all a means to reach an end of satisfying a possible primal drive to organize our thoughts. By placing these thoughts on a solid platform, they are congealed into a tangible reality, forced into a form that can be manipulated, clarified and edited without being lost.
Undoubtedly, the secondary benefits are legion. From the desire to achieve some measure of immortality by leaving behind something one has created, to the healing of mind and body by opening windows to dark places, one can list many reasons for writing. I will not dispute these benefits; I only suggest that the urge to write may be one of the significant distinctions between man and other animals. I would love to hear your thoughts about this. If you wish, feel free to email me with your take on the subject.
A special request for all of the poetry and writing groups, clubs, associations, and any gatherings of writers around our state: please email me with the particulars regarding your organization, including a point of contact. I have a goal to compile as complete and current a listing as possible. There are a great many such groups that are amazingly difficult to discover, especially if you are new to an area.
A few odds and ends: hopefully everyone got their Lyrical Iowa submissions in before the deadline. Do not forget about the Spring 2017 IPA workshop. This is the best ten dollars you can invest in improving your craft. As always - write, write, write and read what you would like to write.
"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master." - Ernest Hemingway
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