Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why Write?

My husband is a biochemist. He does research into heart failure, hoping that by learning enough about how it works, someday they can help people who have it and keep them from dying when it happens.

Once I told him I feel useless next to him. Here he is working to save lives, and I don't do anything like that.

He said, "I can make people live longer, but you give them quality of life. Reading feeds the soul and people need that to live too."


I think he might be right.

How many of us read books for pleasure? For edification? How many times have we read a book and realized with gratitude that here is an author who understands, who has the same ideas we do? How many authors have made us think of things in different ways?

How bleak would this world be without books?

And as writers, how many of us have been saved by writing?

Sometimes people ask why I write. Well, human beings are compelled to create. Even our most distant ancestors left us paintings on the walls of caves, telling stories about their lives. Even before written language, there were stories. Why should I be any different? Everyone creates. Some people knit. Some people make up new recipes. Some people draw. I write. And in the act of creating we find ourselves and our peace.

I write because when I write, it is the only time I don't feel like I should be doing something else.

Casablanca is one of my favorite movies. In one scene, Viktor Laszlo is asked why he continues to resist the Nazis despite the danger it puts him in. He says, “You might as well question why you breathe. If you stop breathing, you’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die.”

I write because if I don't, I'll die. And if we stop writing, all of us, the world will die.

1 comment:

  1. "And in the act of creating we find ourselves and our peace." I'm stealing this quote from you, because it is awesome. Also, sometimes I so desperately want to be the 'save the world' person I forget it's also ok to be a 'make the world a more enjoyable place' person. (though i'm not sure how successful I am at that...)