On a recent episode of the Wordslinger podcast with Kevin Tumlinson, he spoke briefly about shooting a video for a literacy promotion that Reedsy is doing. He was supposed to talk about why he writes.
I turned off the podcast and looked up the promotion. Don’t worry, Kevin. I’ll get back to your show. But this intrigued me to the point that I wanted to answer this question right now.
I write because …
I love to write about redemption.
Just this morning, I read about a local artist who transformed some of the concrete barriers around TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha (where the College World Series is about to begin) into works of art.
He decided that the barriers, which were erected for protection, would look better if they were painted blue, yellow, and green — transitioning them into works of art, rather than constant reminders of the state of our world. You can bet I’ll be writing about this.
It helps me understand myself.
I wrote an essay in my book Common Grounds: Contemplations, Confessions, and (Un)Expected Connections from the Coffee Shop in which I observed a gray-haired man who was wearing jorts and it made me consider the choices I make for my own wardrobe.
“I hope the jorts-wearer is blissfully ignorant about them being out of style for men,” I wrote. “At least that’s what I hear, and once I heard it, I tucked my own collection away in my basement. Why I care about such things at the age of forty-eight is beyond me, but as somebody who has always been overweight and a bit self-conscious, I do whatever I can to blend in.”
It helps me remember.
In my book, Sacred Grounds: First Loves, First Experiences, and First Favorites, I wrote the following paragraphs in an essay about my dream job (writing) and the sacrifices previous generations made so I could do it.
“Most people never get the luxury of chasing their dream job, so I feel fortunate to have done so. In fact, the HBO mini-series John Adams is always in the back of my mind. During the series, when Adams (portrayed by Paul Giamatti) arrived in Paris to ask the French for naval support of the American cause, he found a culture he was unfamiliar with—one that was much slower and engaged in the arts. Over a meal, he is asked about music, and his response is thought-provoking.
“I must study politics and war, you see, so that my sons will have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons must study navigation, commerce, and agriculture so that their children will have the right to study painting and poetry and music.
“It’s not lost on me that in my family, my generation is the one that gets to study painting, poetry, and music because of the sacrifices of the two generations ahead of mine … It seems to me that when a generation stops thinking about, appreciating, and building on the sacrifices of the previous generation, we become self-absorbed. But when we build on the sacrifices of previous generations, it gives us a chance to live beyond ourselves.”
Why do you write?