Tuesday, October 28, 2014

What is Your Why?

by Susan

Maybe she should have asked me after I'd had another cup 
of coffee. 
When I was at the Wyoming Library Association conference this year, I walked into a session first thing in the morning, bleary-eyed and wondering whether there was enough coffee in Colombia to salvage the morning.

The presenter handed me an adhesive name badge with the words, "What is your why?" in red letters at the top. She asked me, what is your passion? Why do you get up and go to work in the morning?

Lately I've been joking that I hate my job with the fiery passion of a thousand blazing suns*, so my first response was, "Because I like to eat?"

But as I sat there a few minutes it dawned on me the common thread as to why I write and why I chose librarianship: stories matter.

Let's say that a little louder... in parentheses.... capital letters.... quotated....

STORIES MATTER!

THIS is my why. Stories matter, YOUR stories matter. Novels, short stories, memoir, history -- you name it. The stories we write, the stories we tell weave us all together in a shared experience. 

With caffeine finally taking effect and cynicism tossed aside for the moment, I proudly wrote "Stories Matter" on the nametag and wore it the rest of the day.

Which brings me back to the question: What is your why? Why do you get up and write? What drives you to it? Writing is a lonely and often unrewarding (at least financially) endeavor. Why do you do it?

We want to know! Please share in the comments: What is your why?


*For the record, it's a good job. I'd just rather be writing.

9 comments:

  1. My why is that if creativity is not part of my life, something inside of me withers. I get cranky. I know this from experience. My chosen creative endeavor is writing. A Lynn writing = a happy Lynn. And everybody around me benefits :-)

    Good question!

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    1. Thanks! I know sometimes the only thing that stresses me out more than writing is NOT writing.

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  2. My "why" is communication and connection. A hand-written letter is a form of caring. For the past eight years, my primary writing practice has been writing cards and letters. Sometimes people tell me they have saved them, probably not so much for what I wrote, but because receiving a letter these days feels like receiving a gift. It is such a simple pleasure to put pen to paper and tell someone they matter to you. I also send postcards … one of the best communication tools ever invented, a rare and precious gift (and bargain) at only 34 cents postage!

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    1. A letter IS such a gift! Despite email, Facebook and everything else, I don't know anyone who doesn't like getting hand-written letters. What a wonderful writing practice.

      I think whether our writing is in letters, memoir, fiction, or anything else (blogging!), communication and connection are strong, strong drivers for our desire to write.

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  3. Before coffee-- but AFTER letting the dogs out (there is such a thing as practicality) I write in my journal. Every morning. That gets the writing going. I recommend it.

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    1. You are a stronger person than I am if you can do ANYTHING before coffee!

      Great advice. I shall try to follow it, although in reverse order. Make coffee, then sit down with a cup and my journal.

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  4. Writing for me is magic. Weaving a tale together and creating other worlds and realities thrills me to the core!

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    1. "Magic" is a good way to put it. There's definitely something magical about creating stories.

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  5. Your "why" is way better than mine. But that said, I honestly write to capture emotions I don't want to forget. Whether something makes me angry or sad or joyful or moved in some other way, if it's an emotion I want to capture (or, in some cases, get out of my head without invalidating it), I write a poem. Whether it's a good poem or a bad one, the act of writing it stores the emotion so I don't lose it. And when it is a good poem, hopefully whatever feeling it was can be shared with others.

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