“Imagine! The power of writing what’s truly on your mind. What you really see, think, and feel. Rather than what you are told you should think, see, and feel. It causes a revolution – or at the very least, a damn fine poem.” So writes Natalie Goldberg, in Old Friend from Far Away, in reference to, and deference to, her old friend and teacher Allen Ginsberg and his revolutionary poem “Howl.”
Just last month, Times Books published “Why Women Have Sex,” which details over 200 reasons that women admit to, from relieving boredom to relieving a headache, with lots of permutations of relieving her partner. “Because I want to” must be in there somewhere. 237 reasons, but when you examine them closely they are all variations on just a few themes: connection, spirituality, money, prestige, self-expression. Aren’t the reasons we write variations on those same themes?
Or is it all love? In Old Friend from Far Away, Natalie Goldberg reveals writing’s deep, light secret. In the essay “The Four-Letter Word” she writes:
Being in love is a loss of control. Suddenly your life is dependent on the eyebrow twitch of Joe Schmo. It’s terrible – it’s thrilling. Everyone wants it.
No one says it but writing induces that state of love. The oven shimmers, the faucet radiates, you die into the mouth that only you see. Right there, sitting with your notebook on your lap… Your life is real. it has texture, detail. Suddenly it springs alive.
Why do you write?