Why Do We Write?

Book Discussion

John Green's The Fault in Our Stars made me think a lot about memories and why we feel the need to write. I think if you ask most bloggers -- especially those that blog about their lives and families -- they'll tell you that they write to remember. By capturing our lives in print and images online, we preserve memories so that one day we can take them out and try them on again. We can see where those moments still fit and where they bust at the seams.

"You do not immortalize the lost by writing about them. Language buries, but does not resurrect." P. 112

Peter Van Houten was an ass but he might have been on to something. When I write about my past I am not trying to resurrect it. Am I writing to remember it? Yes. But I also wonder if I'm not writing to bury it and say goodbye to it. I'm not the person today that I was yesterday. If I tried to step back into my life as it was three years ago, I would not fit. When I write, I accept that Karen is gone but I also write to remember her. I would not be the me I am today if not for her.

"The pleasure of remembering has been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember it with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we'd done were less real and important than they had been hours before." P. 262

When I write a preserve a moment in time. It's a freeze frame. A snapshot. Sometimes we are the only keepers of our memories because there is no one else left that remembers. I could write about promises made that were broken and how my friend Rob did his best to cheer me up with silly antics. No one else remembers those moments. Rob fell asleep at the wheel more than ten years ago and died when his car flipped over in a ditch. I could tell you what music he loved, what he liked to drink and about his totally infectious smile. I could tell you how every girl I knew, myself included, had a little bit of a crush on him and couldn't help wishing that our boyfriends were a bit more like him. But none of that would bring him back to life again. All that it would do is make me smile, then make me sad, and tell me that I still remember even though my co-rememberer is gone.

writing tools

Credit: Pete O'Shea on Flickr

I have to agree with Peter Van Houten in that I don't think writing resurrects. I also don't think it buries. I think writing preserves. I think we write because it's what we can do -- what we need to do.

Why do you write?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.


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