Why do you write?

Today is National Day on Writing. The Twitterverse is celebrating by answering the question: “Why do you write?”

My response:

This, of course, is the simple answer to a question I ask myself a lot lately (paying tuition for a writing program seems to need some justification in my mind).

The longer answer is that I know it’s what I’m meant to do. I know this because I abandoned it for years in favor of French and all sorts of other obligations one thinks are so-very-important as an undergrad. Then, my father died.

Nothing puts your priorities in check like death. Suddenly, it becomes clear that you’ve wasted your time on a bunch of stuff that will never matter or make any difference in the world.  Everything that lacks meaning in your life falls away, because you simply don’t have the energy for it. In this vacuum, you find what’s important; for me, it was my family and my writing. I could do nothing but write, all day, every day. It wasn’t good, or even all that understandable, but it just kept coming and coming. Everything needed a closer look: the picture on the wall, my cat, the river. It was my attempt to make sense of it all, it was the only thing I could do.

Writing’s been there for me in sickness and in health, in good times and bad. I’ve made a promise to myself with this MFA that it will never be a backburner hobby again; it is my vocation, my calling in life, and I’m going after it.

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