Why I Write
I write because of childhood – blissful days I watched my grandfather put words to paper.
He sang them aloud in the rhythm of poetry.
I write because my voice is soft.
And paper doesn’t put the loud above the quiet.
I write because there is a Vietnamese ancient saying goes “the chicken is dead by the drop of a pen”
Once black ink is poured on paper, there is no going back.
I write because in my head lies a tangled wool ball.
Straighten it out, line after line on the page. Untangle.
I write because there are memories to treasure.
Sunken light and falling leaves – an autumn afternoon. Fingers runs between the soft hair of the beloved under the azure summer sky. Smell of chai tea floats through the air of a strange land.
I write because there are memories to let go.
Death. Grudge. Shame. Regret. Haunting my dreams until I write them out of me. Go in and go out of my pain.
I write because of fear.
I write because of courage.
I write because of my eyes – seeking beauty and meaning in it all.
I write because I’m stained, wanting to be innocent again.
I write because life is ugly.
And beautiful. Bleak and fertile. Cruel and loving. Hard and tender.
I write because I feel worthless.
I write because I feel worthwhile.
I write because writing takes me to faraway lands.
Snow mountains, and eagles, and endless meadow.
I write because writing brings me home.
My lover’s perfume. My mother’s potato soup. My cat’s purring.
My own heartbeats. My breaths.
I write because writing saves me.
And kills me on the page so I can walk to life more alive.
I write because I have to, I need to, I want to.
I write because there is a life force – an expression translated through me.
Stories to be shared, truth to be told, and words to be written.
I write because I love.
I write because I write.
I write because of the most legitimate reason in the world:
I write because of no reason at all.
The poem – or non-poem – above was inspired by Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones”: “ If you find a reason for it, any reason, it seems that rather than negate the act of writing, it makes you burn deeper and glow clearer on the page.”