Today, poet and essayist Jena Schwartz stops by to drop some powerful word bombs. Thanks for coming over, Jena!
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I write because I don’t do statistics, but I do do stories. And I get to write things like “do do” without apology.
I write because all I can do to relieve the neuropathic pain my wife has been in 24/7 for weeks on end now is rub her shoulders and lower back. I write because it makes me feel less helpless and a little more hopeful, about that and all of things in the world I feel I can do little to change. The only suffering writing alleviates is my own.
I write because, I’ve been told, my writing has at times made someone else feel less alone.
I write because I get to enter into some nether beta zone where the words flow and I let them and this is a source of great relief and mystery.
I write because I like writing. I write because I have to. Because so much happens in a day of working a full-time job and having a side business that is my joy and raising two kids and keeping up with household tasks–all of this could either swallow me whole or give me endless chances to see my life more clearly.
I write because it is through writing that I’m able to synthesize so many disparate things, not always to make any sense of them but at least to pull the threads together into something whole, or to pull the threads apart when they get all entangled and my breath gets shallow and I start to panic.
I write because it’s how I see. Because I see things and feel things and imagine and want and need and desire and forget and remember, and writing puts the pieces together. Or not. But it’s worth a shot.
I write because poems keep me company.
I write because it is my way of saying hello to myself and hello to you, a friend or a stranger or a stranger whose own stories might become precious to me, and our writing might create a bridge we can walk across to meet in the middle.
I write because it’s my way of spending time alone. It’s how I get quiet. It’s release and retrieval.
I write because life moves me. Because I am beside myself with despair or busting at the seams with exuberance. Because I feel isolated and because I feel connected.
I write because I only learned to weave briefly, as a kid at camp. And always wanted to have a big, beautiful loom.
I wrote because I am in love with language and sound and music and rhythm.
I write because whether you’re in the next room or a different hemisphere, writing is my lifeline.
I write because I cherish the telling of things, how stories can be remade and recycled and retooled and reduced and retold and from scratch and by squinting just so and not knowing where any of it’s going.
I write because that is the coolest thing ever, the process of discovering. Of picking up the bread crumbs and finding my way home to here, over and over and over.
I write because I’m a writer. I don’t get paid for it. I may or may not have any readers. I write because writing is one of the ways I talk to God and one of the ways I listen.
I write because I don’t know how not to write. I think I tried that for many years, and the writing came roaring back with things to tell me about myself that would lead to dying and being reborn and, well, pretty much everything dear to me in this lifetime.
I write because beyond all the reasons, it’s what I know how to do. And I believe so completely, that writing gives us access to ourselves, the way the body gives access, the way touch and movement and the way air on skin and hands on hearts and eyes wide open give us access.
I write because I do not want to close in on myself. Because there is so much to say thank you for. Because I am alive, and writing reminds me to not to miss it.
Jena Schwartz is a poet, promptress, and writing group facilitator who thrives on varying degrees of vulnerability, chutzpah, and connection. She lives and writes in Amherst, MA, with her rockstar wife and two kids.
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Want In On This?
Are you a writer? Whether you’re just starting out or an old hat; unpublished, indie published, or traditionally published- we want to hear from you!
To participate in our guest series, simply write us a blog post that answers the question “Why I Write What I Write”. It can be as long or as short as you want- we’re playing it pretty fast and loose.
Please send your posts to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Why I Write What I Write” in the subject heading (please include any author links/pics you would like in the post). The posts will be scheduled as they come in, with one post going up each Monday, and we’ll all publicize the hell out of them on FB and Twitter.
Can’t wait to hear from you!