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Why do you write?

Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22980 – 1058

Here’s the haps:

Short answer: I dunno.

Longer answer: I really have a hard time pinning this one down. My mom taught me to read when I was 3 or 4 and I LOVED reading. I read (and still do) everything with words printed on it And a lot of times, (unless it was a cereal box or something) I would like the way it made me feel. Could I make somebody feel that way if I told them a story?

I liked stories but I liked poems, too. Not a lot of them, though. Some were so boring I just gave up reading them and trying to figure out what it was about. Then in ninth grade, something happened. I was always bored in school but one day my English teacher posed a question in class, “What does freedom mean?” Well, after hearing a few pat answers from my fellow students, me and another stoner looked at each other and piped up singing, “Freedom’s just another word, for nothing left to lose…” Well, her eyes lit up and I thought we were in for it but instead of chewing us out for our outburst or tsk-tsking us, her eyes twinkled and she said, “That’s a great line, but what does it mean? Why did they even put that in there? Everybody take out a piece of paper and write what that’s all about. Why did it sound like that?” She made me think. And I kind of liked putting my thoughts on the paper.

I wrote a lot of junk that was supposed to be poems but was just junk. I learned, however, that I could get my feelings onto a piece of paper in a way others could know what I meant. In tenth grade, I astounded my English teacher by quoting bits of Shakespeare and Poe. “You’ve read several of Shakespeare’s plays, did you notice anything strange about the writing?” “I could figure out the stories pretty well but there were a lot of words that didn’t make sense. I just ignored them.” “That’s okay for now. But I was thinking about the rhythm of the lines. The words he used. Listen, ‘But SOFT what LIGHT through YONder WINdow BREAKS…’” I discovered Iambic Pentameter and that poems could be constructed in a wide variety of ways besides sonnets and that “free verse” was sometimes just a copout. Stories could be constructed the same way. I re-read Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet in a different light and looked at writing in a different way. We covered The Raven and The Bells in class and I could almost feel the tintinnabulation. The Cask of the Amontillado became more vivid and I could feel the desperation and hear Fortunato cry out, “For the love of God, Montresor!”

I think if I had gotten a math teacher that was like that I might have done better.

But why? Why do I write? I think of the thrill I felt when MacDuff killed Macbeth. Could I make people feel things? Could I play on their emotions? What could I do with the power of words? Sometimes it’s because I have something I feel strongly about and need to say something. Other times it’s to elicit a reaction, as with a well-told pun.

Why? Why do I write? I don’t know. Why not?

Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

(Jdg 5:14)



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20 responses to “Why do you write?”

  1. John Avatar

    I write because using the keyboard keeps my ageing fingers from stiffening up permanently and because it helps to keep the lights on in my decrepit old brain. Other than that, I like to express my inner self and my feelings about things hoping that somewhere along the line I might find a few people who tend to agree with me or a few who detest every word I speak and who are willing to fight with me ….I love trolls …I love messing with their heads because there is usually nothing in their heads …I write because after living a prosperous beyond belief life there is little left to do hat I have not done …abd, maybe, somewhere along the way, some dear soul might gain the benefits of my 8 decades of experience and actually learn something … or broaden their horizons … or find some metaphysical tidbit that might have escaped them … lots of reasons for writing …I even bore myself to the point that writing helps me to sleep.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Thanks John. That’s a lot of good reasons to write, for sure.

  2. colinmcqueen Avatar

    Well, I don’t know, but I’m pleased you do my friend.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Thank you so much.

  3. Iseult Murphy Avatar

    Great post, Herb. Your posts are full of interesting, thoughtful things that make me feel and think. Thank you.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Awww….Thank you so much for your kind words. I take it as high praise indeed.

      1. Iseult Murphy Avatar


  4. C.A. Post Avatar

    “Words are in my not so humble opinion our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of inflicting injury and remedying it.” (J.K Rowling)
    And Ms. Rowling has grounds for her “not so humble opinion!” 😉
    Don’t ever stop writing here!
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Aww…Thank you so very much.

  5. Geoff Stamper Avatar

    I am so glad you had a teacher to light your spark but in your case I suspect spontaneous combustion would have resulted eventually.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Why, thank you so much!

  6. bluebird of bitterness Avatar

    I write because it’s more fun than doing housework.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Almost anything is, I think.

  7. dumbestblogger Avatar

    Well put.

    1. Herb Avatar

      Thank you.

  8. Amber Avatar

    If I had any teacher like that in grade school I would have been great

  9. The Tin Cup Clan Avatar

    I’m not certain why write. Most times I think I write things few are interested in now a days. A lot like making wagon wheels, not many folks riding around in wagons these days.

    1. Herb Avatar

      That may be true but the ones who make them get an arm and a leg for them, I bet. Same with a farrier, who needs horseshoes? Those guys that really know it do pretty well for themselves.

  10. J P Avatar

    An excellent question. I think I write to say things that I can’t or don’t or won’t say in a live conversation with someone.

    1. Herb Avatar

      A lot of times I have a hard time getting my thoughts out to someone in conversation whereas in writing I can (I think) communicate more effectively.

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