I met a girl over the weekend. She was good looking, nice to talk with and seemed to irk my interest in Psychology (she was a Psychologist, go figure). After a few drinks, she asked me what I did and I told her that I was a free lance journalist. She then posed a very simple question, that for some reason, I had no answer.
Girl- Why do you write Freddy?
Me- Because that is what I went to school for.
Girl- No, no. I mean, WHY do you write. Do you hope to reach millions of people with your stories and help to change their views on whatever the topic may be? Or do you write because you hope to make millions of dollars writing books of fiction? Or is it because you know nothing else. And if it is the last, I really don’t think that I can continue a conversation with you, sorry.
I stood in amazement. Not because of the bluntness of the girl and her question, because I didn’t know the answer myself. And that scared the fuck out of me.
Why, if I don’t know why I write, did I just spend the ridiculous amount of money that I did to get the piece of $5 dollar paper that says I can write? And why did I quit the job that I was doing before going back to school, a job that I made close to $80,000 a year doing, if I didn’t know? And why, if I am so creative with words like so many of my instructors told me in my classes, couldn’t I speak one word to answer the Psychologists question?
I always knew that I liked to write, well, loved to write. I always was doing it. Any spare minute I had while sitting in whatever machine I was running at the construction site while working that job, I was writing. Times that I was making deliveries or picking up equipment for that job too, and had a story idea, I’d pull the truck to the side of the road and scribble down a few sentences that I would recall later to start my voyage with words. I can remember one time, one of the very few times that I was in a Church for Sunday mass and had an idea. I told God that I was sorry and beat feet to my laptop in the truck.
Why do I write? How dare you ask me that question!!! I write for the same reason many, many, MANY other writers write. I write because it is what I know. I write because it is what makes me feel good about myself and keeps getting me out of bed in the morning. I write because it is protection from myself and my idle hands. If I didn’t write, I know that I would find myself to be crazier than I already know that I am and closer to the thing called death that we all try to avoid. It doesn’t matter if I never make a million dollars. I didn’t go into this world of Journalism thinking that I would anyway. As long as I can wake up in the morning and feel good about myself, and the thoughts that I've researched and found to be true, or the ideas that I hold but haven't yet proven, I’ve got the best fucking job in the World.
Sure, maybe my BA in Journalism isn’t held quite as high as your Masters Degree in Psychology, but it’s mine and I still earned the fucker.
I really wish I would have said all of the above, but I froze. And I really wish that I could have remembered a line from The Dead Poets Society, and changed it a bit:
I don't read and write because it's cute. I read and writ because I am a member 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 writing is beauty, romance and love – these are what I stay alive for.