I Write, Therefore I am
People write for countless reasons, and I have my own reasons.
Let me answer the question – “Why do I write?
Is it to impress?
I don’t write to impress, and my writing skills are nowhere near excellent. It seems to me that I am not even halfway through my journey to excellence in writing. But I am sure I’ll get there before I breathe my last. The road that leads to the door of excellence has always been “long and winding.” It stretches up into the hills of challenges and down to the valleys covered with trees and undergrowth of uncertainties. Robert Frost best describes it as “the road not taken.” But I decided to travel on it.
Let me go back to the question – Why do I write?
Do I write in the hope that I earn money and become famous?
I am still determining.
Becoming famous and earning money are not my primary reasons for writing. Of course, I need money, and it’s hypocritical to say that I don’t like to have other numbers to the farthest north of the first digit in my bank account.
But can writing earn you money?
Writing is very financially rewarding, especially if you are a scriptwriter of one of the popular TV networks or movie outfits in your own country or a novelist who belongs in the league of the likes of J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, and Stephen King.
Yes, I am also earning from writing. It’s actually my secondary source of income. I got paid for some of the articles or papers I have written. When I began writing when I was young, I did not expect that someday it would be an additional source of income for me. Like the skeptics, I used to think that “there’s no money in writing.” Of course, that’s not true.
The university where I am employed gives additional evaluation points and offers cash incentives to professors for research works published in international (indexed) journals. Professors can also opt to apply for research grants. We can get research funds and ensure the paper is published within 2 to 3 years. The money they offer is quite handsome, making writing the research more than worth it. They also give an honorarium for articles contributed to the school’s publication in English.
I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to hone my skills as a writer and researcher, to possibly add to the sum of existing knowledge, to have my works read, and to even get paid in the process. So, I have been publishing papers in international journals and contributing articles to our university publication. In addition, I have been doing it (the publication of research papers) because university professors are supposed to publish. Our university does not require us to do so, but I consider publishing a “professional obligation.”
Once in a while, some individuals would also commission me for writing jobs. Sometimes I did it for free if the ones asking for help are loved ones and friends dear to me. There were also times that I was promised remunerations for what I wrote but didn’t get any. I was also duped once by an online news organization that did not pay me a single cent for the articles I wrote for them.
I consider the cash incentives as my reward for doing what I love doing – writing. But it’s not all about the money. Money is not the reason I write.
The rewards that writing gives, for me, are hard to quantify. Such rewards are transcendental. That’s not me trying to sound spiritual or philosophical. That’s just the way I feel about it.
What about fame? What about the accolades? Are those the things that inspire me to write?
As a matter of fact, when I write and allow people to read my works, I am unnecessarily putting myself under the microscope. I am putting myself in the line of fire if, among my readers, there are unforgiving members of the grammar police who wouldn’t hesitate to shoot on sight anyone whose spoken and written English are perforated with grammar errors. When they start firing, you can not hide. My missing the comma between the words “firing” and “you” in the previous sentence is something they could not miss. What about you? Did you notice it?
So, instead of accolades, I may get negative comments. This is why a friend said he would never write for any publication or post any of his writings on social networking sites. He is afraid he may not be able to take negative comments. He added he fears committing grammar errors. He considers it embarrassing to be corrected for such mistakes.
In my case, criticisms and corrections are welcome. I won’t die if I commit grammatical errors and be criticized and corrected. As a matter of fact, I have already received a lot of those, and here I am – still alive and kicking. I don’t mind if somebody calls my attention for mistakes I committed. Just break it to me gently and constructively… please. But it’s okay if you do so otherwise. I just have to put it down to experience and continue writing.
The reason erasers were invented and computer keyboards have backspace and delete keys is… nobody’s perfect.
I keep rereading my stuff, particularly those published on my website and social media accounts, to correct and improve possible errors.
People may read or disregard what I write. If they do read, a million thanks. If not – no hard feelings. And for reaching this far into my essay, I want to thank you. Please continue reading.
I may have received some good comments from my friends for some of my writings in the past. But, of course, those comments may have been either meritorious or simply generous. Sometimes some people give positive and encouraging compliments. Thanks to them.
But aside from good comments, some of my works have also angered some offended individuals, thinking that what I wrote pertained to them. Writing sometimes is a magnet for trouble. The journalists who are either killed or missing until now are proof.
I remember quite well when I wrote a satirical poem in Filipino (about a wolf in sheep’s clothing) when I was working at a college run by a religious congregation. The parish priest who felt alluded to (and I was really alluding to him) reportedly asked my superior, a nun, to summon me to the latter’s office so he could talk to me about what I wrote. However, he was dissuaded from pursuing his request. But I wouldn’t agree to see him even if he could convince my superior. Why? That poem I wrote, and my act of writing it had nothing to do with my employment. My being a writer has no personality and office that could be connected to any of the lines that run vertically and horizontally in our organizational chart. In short, the priest had no authority over me. The priest never bugged me again, but I wrote another poem for him (Habit and Habit).
My quatrains (in Filipino) are the ones that brought me some colorful moments. I have lost a friend or two (Or is it three?… perhaps more) for the quatrains I have posted on a social networking site. I once wrote a quatrain, and a friend liked it. Almost a year later, I re-posted the same quatrain, and surprisingly, the same person who previously liked it was angered and gave me a mouthful. His wife joined the fray. The two of them ganged up on me. We’re very good friends so we talked about it. He understood, apologized, and we both forgot about it since then.
Also, my writings where my political beliefs are on full display had me losing very dear friends.
So, why do I write then?
Is it for the “likes,” “reactions,” and compliments I get when I post those poems, stories, and essays on my social networking accounts or this website?
Of course, those things make me happy, and I am so thankful for those friends who take the time to read my works and then even react and comment on them.
Then, why? Why do I write?
It’s really hard to explain. It combines the answers to the following questions: Why do people need to eat when hungry? Why do they need to drink when they are thirsty? Why do they need to take medicine when they are sick? Why do they laugh? Why do they cry?
There is a kind of hunger within me that only writing can satisfy. There’s an insatiable thirst in my soul that would go away only when I read what I write. I suffer from a very mysterious illness that goes away only when I write in sentences or verses the equivalent words of the thoughts and feelings that drown me during quiet moments in my life.
Writing is my endorphin.
I must release my pain, anger, and disagreement by writing about them, or they will endlessly haunt me. When I feel wronged, I have to respond, not by violent means. I respond creatively – through poems – sometimes satirical. I usually do it using anthropomorphism.
If the spirits of William Shakespeare and Elizabeth Browning I could not summon through the glass to inspire me to express in poetry whatever I wish to say, then I turn to Francis Bacon and Michel de Montaigne’s way of capturing into words – essays – whatever it is that I wish to convey. If I don’t wish to be so direct with my points and would like to hide my feelings and thoughts between lines and behind symbolism, then I walked the path that Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassant paved. I write stories.
I just don’t keep quiet when I notice human follies displayed by my loved ones, friends, and other people around me. Again I resort to anthropomorphism. I use animals to represent their irrationality. It may hurt and make them angry, but the truth may be bitter but sweeter than the sweetest lie. VERO NIHIL VERIUS. Nothing is truer than the truth.
This is not to say that I am a perfect human being. I am as imperfect as anyone else and may have, perhaps, done more terrible things. Thus, the satires I wrote are like boomerangs. They sometimes hit me, also.
Pain is like a prison cell. It is by writing that I break free from that hell. As my heart churns out the words, I go through the pain, feel it, not escape it. And the pain vanishes as I write the final sentence or verse and put the final punctuation mark.
Even my happiness and satisfaction wouldn’t be complete if I did not write about them. I need to capture those moments in either prose or poetry to feel the joy they bring more deeply. I write about them so I can relive those moments whenever I wish.
I need neither material rewards nor accolades for what I have written (and will be writing.) The rewards are the essays, plays, poems, research works, and stories I created. I love and treasure them.
I write not to impress but to express my thoughts, feelings, and ideals. Writing is my freedom, my happiness. In the dictum “I think, therefore I am,” Descartes argued that whenever he thinks, he exists.” In like manner, when I write, I become more aware of my existence. What I write, no matter how simple, gives me a sense of fulfillment.
SCRIBO, ERGO SUM. I write; therefore, I am.