Why I Write

Now that the book — Acts of Forgiveness — is out in the marketplace (Amazon, McFarland/Toplight, BuyLocal, Barnes and Noble) I am beginning to reckon with the hard question raised by friends and family: “Why did you write this book?”   

As stated in the acknowledgements at the end of the book, I am breaking silence: breaking silence about the past events and demons as well as attempting to clarify the meanings of life and my experience. As a person of faith, I am often challenged to become a more clear and cogent self in the midst of things that I may not understand. I am a writer by nature and training. That, too, causes me to commit to words and paragraphs the nature of experience, particularly the reflections on my own experiences. So I have assembled this memoir of portions of my life.

But there is more. Joan Didion writing in The White Album said, “Memory is often a moment to get acquainted with the stranger that was you a long time ago. We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” So this act of writing has lead me on a multiyear chase to find myself and my distinctive meanings and understandings of what life is about for me. Maybe it’s safe to say that writing is my self-indulgent—and very public—self-discovery process of an authentic and examined self and life.

That said, the reason why is perhaps more adequately summarized by fellow writer, Lyn Abbey, who once told me: “You’ve got to write because you are are suffering from rat’s disease.”

“What?” I said.

“Yes, rat’s disease. For you, writing is like being a rat whose teeth continue to need to be fixed down by gnawing, lest they grow into the top of your head and annihilate you. You’ve got to write because not writing will consign you to silence and pain without ending.”

“Enough said,” I intoned in tacit agreement with her analogy.

Thus, writing anything is the means of locating myself in time and space, and it is the means I have found to become clearer about what I am thinking and why. As an extrovert I rarely know what I am thinking until I speak, and what I speak I need to write down to remember. So writing is the means of exposure and remembering what I think and how I feel. Not a bad way to begin a project of this magnitude.

I am delighted that you are joining me on this journey.

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