‘Why do I write?’

A question I’ve often asked myself, and have tried to answer many times, e.g. “to influence others for the better” or “to improve society” or (from my most recent MA personal statement) “to challenge others through my fiction by shining light on both the beautiful and ugly aspects of society to bring about positive change” or… yet none of those ever felt complete. I felt like I was missing a vital piece—the core reason.

I’ve always loved writing, but only in my senior year in 2009—when out of the blue, my friend Lillian prophetically exclaimed, ‘You have a way with words!’—did I finally realise it was my destiny. I have an unwavering confidence and assurance that I have been called to write for the rest of my life.

Last night, James 3 from the Bible came to mind, particularly verse 8: ‘The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer.’ (The Message)

Recently, several people have noted and remarked, ‘Justin, I appreciate the way you speak. You’re always careful with your words.’ This encourages me, for I consciously aim to be careful. Our words, whether in written or verbal form, have the power to steal, kill and destroy. I have seen it happen. I have caused it to happen. It has also happened to me.

I always try to do the opposite, precisely because I deeply comprehend the terrifying power of words. ‘No human being can tame the tongue’ (James 3:8, ESV) which is wholly capable of both ‘blessing and cursing.’ (James 3:10, ESV) Since that’s the case, I view it thus as my responsibility to tame the words that are produced by my tongue.

Then it hit me, finally—call it an insight or epiphany or revelation—the answer to my own question above: ‘Why do I write?’

I write to bring life, and not death.

As a writer and storyteller, I seek to ensure that the words I pen, that emerge from my mouth, bless, and not curse.

How will that look like practically? How will it materialise? In what form, through what content?

I don’t know. It depends. It’s sure to change each time.

But for now, I am content.

(To me it was profound, to me it brought clarity. I wonder if my fellow writers can relate and understand? Please do share your thoughts and conclusions, dear friends.)

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