Nights are often the times when I feel the minutes of my life ticking by. Sunday nights, for whatever reason, are the worst nights for this dread that comes creeping toward me—perhaps it’s just the fact that I can see much more of my life behind me than ahead; I’m soon to be fifty-eight—and I start to question the days spent and the journey traveled. Tonight, as I try to fall asleep, I explain to myself why I write (with a nod to the writers before me who have done the same) in hopes that such a list will remind me of who I am and maybe even slow time and hold the inevitable end at bay.
I write because my father told stories, and I listened. I write because my mother loved books and taught me to love them, too. I write because I want to live in someone else’s life. I write because everyone’s a mystery, even me, and stories have the power to make us understand. I write because I have to give some shape to the chaos. I write because I fail time and time again, both in my writing and my living. I write because the music of language spoke to me in books and I wanted to make a beautiful noise to answer back. I write because there’s so much I don’t know. I write because I love to be entertained by a well-crafted narrative. I write because once upon a time someone said to me, “Once upon a time.” I write because my fourth-grade teacher told me I had no imagination. I write because rarely in my childhood home did we touch each other with affection. I write because, when I do, I know what it is to love. I write because the end is coming, and I’m whistling in the dark. I write because I want to talk to you; I want to know why you write, or sing, or dance, or paint, or cook, or garden, or play music, or pray. I want to know someone’s listening. I don’t want to be alone. Please tell me.