Why I Write

The following was a guest post on Literary Mama’s After Page One, “designed to motivate, encourage and inspire” ….

Pen to paper is more than a physical act for me. It is one part art, two parts therapy. Writing is an emotional purge that results in a swirling choreography of words that can waltz both writer and reader up and down, lead us in and out of twists and turns before leaving us in a different space than where we began. I was writing long before I was a mother, yet the first note I ever wrote to my children was penned before their spirits entered the world. In the wee hours of the morning of September 12, 2001 and newly into the first of the “days after” 9/11, I sat on the hallway floor of my apartment in Arlington, Virginia with a pen and paper writing to my someday children. Still processing my own emotions, I wanted to emphasize the importance of all that had just passed for us as a nation and humanity. Four years later when the first of those children was born I wrote my son his second note. As he was rushed into emergency surgery at three days of age, I scribbled words to my boy, pressing the pen down fast and furiously in a staccato rhythm as if by doing so I could command his survival. While the surgeon’s expert hands cut into my son’s intestines to start his healing, my own healing began by using my hands to capture words and thoughts. Healing was sought on paper again a few years later when my second child was born unexpectedly still. I would write a poem to the daughter I was grieving and seven years later use excerpts from that poem for a piece that is part of an anthology book for bereaved parents. During pregnancies with my two subsequent daughters, I have written to them both. Doing so insisted upon their existence and convinced me of their safe arrival. In each of these situations, writing was a visceral action. It is in these moments that I have been propelled by the same momentum to reach out to clergy to baptize my ailing son, seek comfort for myself, urge a medical action or flee a potentially dangerous situation. This is how I know that writing is at my core, lying next to my fight or flight instinct. While I may get tripped up in the why, where and what for of my writing, I know that writing affects how I engage with the world. It is interwoven into my faith and spirituality in the same way that my children are interwoven into my being as their mother. If my children are the beat behind my heart, then writing is the processing within my mind.


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