This was an initial assignment in one of numerous writing workshops I attended over the years.  I think we had 10 minutes or so to complete it.

Why I Write

             When I first began to write, I wrote because there was no one to listen to me.  The paper could not escape my ink, and my own words smacked me right between the eyes.  I didn’t know who I was, where I came from, or where I was going.  Sometimes I wrote to God who seemed light-years away.  I hoped that one day I could write something worthwhile.

So who am I that I should write?  I write because I am like you.  I write, because I love.  I write because I am broken.  I write to teach and find that I learn.  I write, because it’s safer than speaking.  I write to bare my soul and ask for mercy.  I write to draw you into me.  I write to push you away.  I write what I feel and what I am afraid to feel.  My scribbled path will show you that which I run from as well as that which fuels my passion.  I write with bloody ink, that healing might follow.  I write to find a place where I belong.  I write to tell the truth if it can be found.  I write to expose the lies I tell myself.  I write in search of peace.  I write to wage war against injustice.  I write to capture the shadow of a moment.  I write to be apprehended.  I write to bring laughter.  I write to cope with loss.  I write to pray and pray to write.  I seldom write to curse.  I write to find reasons to be thankful and to live.  I write to die many kinds of death.  I write, because I starve.  I write, because I am nauseatingly full.  I write as an act of courage to ward off fear, loneliness, and anger.  I write to believe.  I write to deny that which I believe.  I write to excite, imagine, and dream the impossible.  I write to make my heart stop pounding. I write because I revere words.  I write knowing words are inadequate. I write to forgive, because I am forgiven.  I write to relinquish all.

I write as if I really matter.

–  Mary E. Kocher       8/27/07

Given the same assignment in a later workshop, I wrote:

Why I Write

 I write because I want to shed the shame that was never mine.  I’m told that I will find myself in my words; no one can do this for me.  I write because I see a trickling up from the ground in a lonely field and want to discover its source.  I write because of pressure that is too great to sustain it any longer.  Sometimes it’s like a waterfall flowing backward into the abyss of the unnamed or like the imminent explosion of misplaced elements into the test tube of life.

I write for my own blood-letting, a steady and sure death, but quiet and calm.  I must take this risk to relieve myself of the throbbing in these legs that have carried me all these years.  I am afraid, I feel, with just cause, because “life is in the blood,” and I can only hope the sacrifice will be worth it.  I read it’s in the shedding of blood we find redemption…I tell myself it’s only the shell that disintegrates…the shell outside the shell, that is.  It was easy for that man to say, “You’ll be glad for doing this.”  Then I saw him wandering in my dreams last night.  His eyes said he needed a kind embrace, but something stopped me—maybe I had projected my need onto him. And when I awoke, I was glad to have refrained, because otherwise I might have embraced death, too–too soon.

Like pepper in the nostrils, I don’t want to find some things because it burns and doesn’t go away easily.  But I must write or another kind of burning will not subside.  I write because I believe I will discover one day what is worth writing.  I write to learn.  I write to feel.  I write so I won’t hurt anymore.  I write, because someday I will trip upon the very words that need to be written, spoken, heard, and remembered.

This is my food, my strength, the marrow in my bones. I think we are not so different at the very core, so  I will write until I can write no more.

– Mary E. Kocher, August 2010