Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Words are forced onto him.

I once asked a writer friend why he wrote. 

We were having dinner in Little Italy. As an Italian descendent, he would later tell me stories of how his grandparents came to America. He wrote short stories and poetries. To pay the bills, he edited periodicals and taught writing at a local college.

He looked at me. His face was so stern, his muscles so tight, his eyes really intense, and he was just... silent. He was in agony. It was as if he had a horrible medical condition and I had just asked him why he was receiving treatment. It seemed that painful. Finally, he let out four very simple words. 

"Because I have to."

Writing doesn't come to him naturally, he said. Rather, the words are forced onto him. They invade his thoughts, and the only way to get rid of them is to write them down. I still don't know whether he was in such agony because of this painful process; or because he was puzzled that I didn't understand immediately something as obvious as 'the need to write.'