It was Thoreau who said, "The best you can write will be the best you are." Writing for me, is simply an attempt to grow, to be fully and creatively alive, to experience life in its rich detail. As I try to think more clearly as to the reasons I write, I think of four words: passion, pain, process and poking holes.
Passion for me is not the passion to write, but the passion to live. And writing becomes the chronicling, the detailing and the passing on of experiences. I've been around far too many people in my life who use big words to describe experiences they've never had. But as Thoreau said, you can't truly write in a meaningful way about things you've not experienced. So for me, writing is about full engagement in life. To discover the joy, the pain, the up, the down, the adversity, the advantage, the fear, the faith, the beauty, the brokenness, the paradoxes that life is, and passing them on.
But even in spite of the pain, life is worth living. For me, writing is also about being willing to embrace the pain. Not only is writing a painful endeavor, because it is the revealing of your deepest thoughts, feelings and emotions, and exposing your true self, for me, it seems as painful as a mother going through the process of childbirth holding her beautiful baby up for others to see and having them comment, "It's nice, but we've seen better."
The other word for me that I think of when writing is, process. Life is about process, about sides and seasons. It's about change, being at different places in different times. And my writing changes as the process and the places in my life change. Process is about growing, about achieving, about facing hard things and either winning or failing, but learning in either.
The real passion and pain behind the reasons that I write, is that I see writing as my way of poking holes in the darkness to let in the light. I see way too many of my fellow travelers wandering either in total darkness or a dingy gray drabness of life. For me, writing is about one beggar telling another beggar where they've found bread. It's about using your passion for life, the pain that you've experienced in the process of growing through them both, to hold out a cup of water to a thirsty soul, to poke holes in the canopy of darkness and let in the light of hope, that no matter what you've experienced or where you're coming from, being alive is not only a gift it is also the glory.
Writing for me allows me to leave markers along the way: sign posts of hope, of joy, of grace, that allow people to stay on a higher path. But at the end of the day, I write because I can't help it. That's what I do.