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.

Quill small

Quill small

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.”