So Tell Me, Why Do You Write?

As a writer, I often meet people who ask me the same question: Why do you write? My answer is always different each time.

“I write for a living.”

Perhaps this is the most realistic, most unpretentious answer to that question. I write because it’s my job. I write because I need money. I need money so I can buy things that I need, buy meals that will stop my stomach from rumbling all day, and lastly, buy secondhand books that will feed my thirsty brain with knowledge. Perhaps.

“Are you serious?”

Because asking me why I write is like asking me why I breathe.

“I write for others.”

This is what I tell myself whenever I write web content for small businesses. I write to help them make an online presence. I write to help them grow their business.

“I write for myself.”

My brain is so pabebe it needs a pampering session every once in a while. My brain is so pabibo, it has no switch, and it keeps on keeping on even when I order it not to. My brain is so papansin it keeps on absorbing new things like it’s a blank canvas that can absorb gazillion coats of paint without damaging itself. And in case you still haven’t guessed what I’m trying to say, here’a hint for your dumb ass: writing is my therapy.

“What do you care?”

Because if your only concern is the amount of pay I’m getting as a writer, why bother asking me this? Why waste your precious time encouraging me to become a call center agent instead? As far as we both are concerned, I find my job fulfilling [1] and you don’t thank you very much.

“I write to inspire.”

Okay. So I didn’t tell anyone this because it sounds so pretentious and I bet anyone who knows me would laugh at me if I say this, but books, songs, movies, and art, in general, inspire me. These works of art lifted me up at times when I was depressed, helped me push through with life, and inspired me to keep writing when the world was dropping doubt-bombs all over me. Writing is my way of sending my sincerest thanks to the authors, writers, and all the creatives–both dead and living–who made make my life bearable.

And, oh, did I mention that I put up this blog to inspire others?

“It’s the only thing I’m capable of doing.”

I was once that dumb girl who told her friends that she writes because it’s the only she thing she’s capable of doing. Fuck that.

Like others, I can speak or chat with angry customers all day, empathize with them in their misery, and help solve their billing problems as if I have no problems on my own to deal with in the first place. I can be a production assistant in a big TV network, work 24/7, and receive the same low salary that I’m getting as a writer. I can work in an advertising firm, create catchy slogans, and build fresh ideas that will make our clients’ cash registers ring. I can work as a service crew at a fast food restaurant abroad and get higher pay. I can be an editor. I can be a team lead. I can try to do a bunch of other jobs, but I choose to be a writer because see [1].

“I write to immortalize myself.”

The photo of Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society is not the featured image of this post for no reason. I have seen the movie and I have been greatly moved by the words of this fictional character. I wrote this post because I want to answer the same question he asked the DPS members:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race and the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering…these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love…these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish…what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists, and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

To answer the question of Mr. Keating, my verse will be to immortalize the ideas passed on to me by great people through books, art, songs, and poems so I can inspire others who will read my work.

_________________________________________________________________

“Why do you write?”

“To immortalize myself.”

“What do you mean, immortalize?”

“You know, to leave a legacy so people will remember me even after I’m gone.”

These lines are part of a novel that I made up, one that I created inside my head while staring at the blank space of this blog post a few moments ago. And it’s true, you know. If a job recruiter would ask me the same question, I’d honestly say, “I write to immortalize myself.” I don’t write for a living, dear sir. Scratch that. I need money, yes, but if I write for money then I’d have written press releases and paid reviews in my blog by now. I wouldn’t have submitted articles to websites for free. If I write for money, I would have spent my free time writing paid articles instead of wasting it by writing blog posts like this.

I write to immortalize my words. As Edward Sheffield said in Nocturnal Animals,  writing, for me, is like “saving things that will eventually die. If I write it down, then it will last forever.”

I want to inspire as many people as I can–I don’t care how small my following is. I want to become an inspiration for others, too. And at the rate that I am going, I am well on my way.

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