Why Do I Write?

The Fairfield Writer’s Blog is pleased to welcome our new monthly contributor, Donna Woods Orazio. Donna earned both an MA (American Studies) and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Fairfield University. She facilitates a writing group at the Fairfield (Connecticut) Public Library with a focus on new writers. Donna co-hosts the Library’s First Friday Writer’s Salon, which provides an informal opportunity for writers to discuss their work. Past President of the Friends of Fairfield Public Library, Donna currently serves on the Board, is involved with the One Book, One Town committee and the Home Bound program. For the past eight years, Donna has volunteered at Mercy Learning Center in Bridgeport tutoring women in the ESL program. An avid genealogist, Donna is a collector of pages and photos from the past, understands the power of words, and values writing that tell a story. As her three adult children spread their wings, Donna and her husband, Jimmy, remain anchored in Fairfield.

How many times have you asked yourself, why do I write? How many times have you been asked by others, who don’t quite understand your need to put words on the page, why do you write?

There are as many different and valid answers to this question as there are writers. A search on Goggle reveals dozens of references to books, articles and sites in which authors, famous and not so famous, answer this question.

Joan Didion (top) said, “I write entirely to Didionfind out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means.”

Toni Morrison (bottom) said, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Ernest Hemingway said, “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

toni-morrisonI asked myself, why do I write? For many reasons, was my quick answer. I write in many forms. I copy quotations, ones that make me pause, into a small blue journal.   I keep a gratitude journal. I am a letter writer. In particular, I write essays to capture a memory, to figure out my response, to tell my story. Writing, in all forms, is a way to more fully participate in my life. I write for me.

Take a few minutes and answer the question: why do I write? Does your current writing relate to your answers?

Ultimately, every writer has something unique to say. This is worthy of putting words on the page.

Keep creating, word by word.—Donna Woods Orazio


Published in: on July 27, 2015 at 1:12 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Thank you, Donna, for stepping up and stepping out — and for your words.

    But why is it we hopeful scribblers must ever be about and engaged in this daunting and demanding enterprise of writing? Of wrestling with the feisty words which so often resist and elude us … when we might rather be on a happy holiday in summer sunshine, or having a jolly picnic by the sea? I suppose we write because we must.

    And we are meant, I believe, to share the stories that have been written in our hearts. To give and receive courage and comfort. To learn compassion, and love.

    “I am because we are …” according to the saying of the Xhosa tribe of Africa. We are all truly people of the story, a community of memoir searching for faith, hope and meaning.

    Joan Didion famously wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

    And, I think, we write and tell ourselves stores in order to learn … and to love. For our writing, if it is to be sure and true, must be a labor of that love — a sincere and tender letter written across time to a friend we may have never met who needs us, heart to heart. We must let our lives speak, that wise counsel from the Quaker tradition; and it is certain that what comes from the heart will speak to the heart.

    On the bare walls of a local hospital is a poster that reads: “To Participate In Healing Is The Noblest Profession.” As writers, we too are called upon to participate in healing. For others. And for ourselves. For of what good are all of our words and books and learning if not for that?

    Through our words, we struggle to find faith and hope and meaning, To make sense of this world of sorrow and tears, but also with incredible and unbounded beauty, mystery and surprise. With words, we would understand and make sense of it all.

    We know we must fail. We know that in our writing we may be but chasing after words like children catching fireflies in a jar … but still there is a joy and wonder in it — and they give a lovely and somehow comforting light in the early darkness.

    In my own writer’s quest, and if I am discouraged or despair: It is Paul Gallico who comforts my questioning heart … gently reassuring me that “… the loving trust of a child, or the whispered confessions of a sincere and tender heart can alter the stars in their courses.” And perhaps, so too, if we humbly ask their help, the words of our pure and humble hearts.

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