National Writing Day: #WhyIWrite

Today is National Writing Day, and it comes at an oddly prescient moment for me.

I’ve been grappling a lot lately with the question of what it means to be a writer, maybe because this past year and a half I’ve found to be a difficult one for writing, consisting mostly as it has of all that post-academic real-life drudgery can entail: the shitty part time jobs, mounting student loans, the endless shuffle between the suburban bedroom I never really expected to return to, and my boyfriend’s apartment which we haphazardly share. A few essays have been written in this time, a new writing community found, but for the most part: creative stagnancy. And the constant battling against thoughts like can you really call yourself a writer if you don’t write the way you used to? Why do you write in the first place? How do you move on to the next phase? How do you redefine yourself now? Ultimately, I suppose, how do you become brave enough (you were once!) to do this maddening, difficult, provocative—and yet, at the very end of it all, joyful, compulsive, oh-so-necessary act? Perhaps as you get older, certain truths get harder to confront, not easier, and for me, writing has always been about truth.

So. Why do I write? Because I’ve come to feel that if you have a gift, it’s your responsibility to use it, to do something with it, to poke and prod and question and to be unafraid. As a writer (and who is more cognizant of the power of language to shift our landscape?) I think that responsibility becomes even more pronounced. You have a platform forever at your fingertips. Use it. I write about sexual assault and violence against women not only because they are topics I feel deserve as much attention as they can get, but also because each new piece of writing is a daily act of vindication, a strike back against the silence: mine, and others. I write because it’s the only way I’ve ever known how to make sense of the world. I write because it’s the first real, lasting identity I ever bestowed upon myself. I write because I will always relish the thrill of creating whole worlds in my head. I write because as shy as I can be in person, I know I can be powerful on the page. I write because there is still (will always be) so much I need to tell.

Tell me: why do you write? Leave your comments below, add them to the Twitter stream of #whyiwrite, and check out the many ways National Writing Day is being celebrated. Here are just a few:

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/why-do-you-write/

http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/3663

http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/13/using-opening-lines-from-the-magazines-lives-column-as-writing-prompts/

http://people.bridgewater.edu/~atrupe/ENG310/Didion.pdf

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Michelle Koufopoulos is a writer, editor, book lover and tea enthusiast. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College and spent a year studying at Oxford University, being indoctrinated into British cult ...read more

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