Why they write

 

 

Every semester, I ask my students to tell me why they write. And when I say “tell” I mean write. This semester — one that is the third in which they spent all or part of the semester learning remotely — their responses are more reflective than normal. Many of them mentioned that they write so they can make sense of the thoughts pingponging around in their heads. Which seems to be as good a reason as any other.

This is a class full of smart people; people who may be writers or may not. But they’re all going to be successful. Some excerpts from their writing:

Stories are the ties that bind us as humans, and I can’t resist a good story. That’s why I’ve spent most of my life creating them in some way: first fanfictions, fiction writing and now news stories and feature pieces. Stories can create the empathy we need to sustain a society.

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Empathy and knowledge are our weapons to fight hate, expose problems and come together. Writing has been my favorite way to merge the two together for others to consume, and maybe in some small way, we can all be better for it.

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Those special moments of humanity when two people can bond, and forever connect, over the power of words. When journalism is more than words on a page, but a moment of shared appreciation.

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I wish I could tell you I write to bring about justice, to help those who need it, to enlighten the world of somebody’s struggle. I wish I could say I write because I desperately have to let the world see who I am or know what I’ve gone through. But I don’t. I write for wholly selfish reasons.

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I write because, at a certain point, I’d boil over if I kept all of the things I’m thinking inside my brain.

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Maybe I hide behind my writing, but when I write I can be anyone that I want to be, a cynic, a critic, a poet.

When I write, I am forced to look within myself. It makes me question what I know. I hope those who read my writing question what they know — about me, but also about themselves.

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My writing remains my strongest form of communication. It’s the key that opens up the box inside me that hides who I really am – the person few people get to see.

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When my words started floating off those pages and into conversations, I realized other people had stories just like mine and stories that were very different. They were all worthy of being heard, but I didn’t hear them until I asked the right questions.

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What I hope to give with the words I write now is what those journals gave me growing up — a place where my words would be heard. It’s shooting for the moon, and I often miss. But I try again, I ask new questions, I write fresh words. Because the stars aren’t enough.