‘My pen untangles the web of thoughts in my head in a way I couldn’t articulate otherwise.’

Every semester, on the last day of class, I have my students respond to the statement “Why I write.” Sooner or later, every writer needs to grapple with that internally. I just push them along. I only give them 15 minutes so this is more of a beginning, rather than an in-depth intellectual exercise. But it’s a start. Here are some excerpts:

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Every life is a story, filled with thousands of smaller stories, and the more of these stories we hear or read, the more connected we become to one another. In a world that grows more divisive with each passing year, telling the right stories might be the only way to preserve our common humanity.

***

Game of Thrones had it right, stories are what make us human; our stories are what connects us to each other in a disconnected world; they are what make us worth knowing. That’s why I write.

I think there’s a connection here: my fascination with strangers and my anxious insecurities. I like to tell the stories of other people because I am afraid to tell my own.

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I was painfully shy, and talking to people so I could write felt like I was carrying a shield into the conversation. I think what I love about writing is that as much as it helps me communicate my own thoughts, it also helps people communicate with each other.

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Our job as journalists isn’t to give a voice to the voiceless—it’s to amplify voices that have been silenced, even if those voices shake. I write because I am no better, no worthier, no more deserving than those I write about. I just care enough to take the time, listen to them, and write it all down.

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When I write — no matter what I’m writing — I feel the most normal and the most human. Writing is just easier than real life. It always has been.

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My pen untangles the web of thoughts in my head in a way I couldn’t articulate otherwise.

***

it’s an essential way of bringing people together, of connecting them to one another, of helping them emphasize with a stranger. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when someone tells you how much it means to have their story told — it makes it all worth it.