|Why Do I Write?|
|SATURDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2009 13:31|
By Rodlyn Douglas
Is this a question? Or is it an implement with which you ask me to pry open myself and reveal my soul? Why do I write? If I choose to use mere words to answer this question, then surely we will see the limitations of the language. To go into the depths of why I write, I would have to add to the words, grunts, and shouts, and hollering, and screams, and moaning and groaning and roars and thundering sounds of rolling crashing waves and silence. To use words alone would not let you see, sense, hear, smell the depth of the wounds I try to heal by writing. I write to heal, not to tell stories, not to record my life, not to let you into the secret closets of my emotions. No, I write simply to heal. It is the only way I know how to heal the invisible wounds, the wounds you cannot see with the plain old naked eyes, but only through the lens of my pen. I write for the same reasons, a painter paints, a dancer dances, a sculptor sculpts and a baby cries. I write because it is the only natural remedy I have been fortunate enough to discover that will heal my wounds.
I write to reach the depth of the canker sores. I write to squeeze the pus from the boils. I write to express the silence that only pen in hand and clean white pages of my diary can contain. I write to touch the places smiles cannot touch. I write to drain the morass from the unconsciousness I slipped into as a child in order to survive. I write to survive as a woman. I write to survive as a mother. I write to find out how to be a woman, a mother, a writer and still survive in this world. I write to find the way through the fog that sometimes is my life. I write to ensure that I see the sunrise overcome the dim darkness of night, even in daylight. I write because it is twilight and night is drawing near. I want to be able to sleep and have sweet dreams, and not the tormenting dreams of the demons waiting to gnaw at me from the levels of the unknown where my soul travels when I sleep, a sleep of distress and worry and pain.
I write to keep depression at bay and make the light shine in the darkness, because “light will always over come darkness” and writing is my light. I write so that my light would shine, and that I will have the energy to reach up and place that light on a stand, high enough so that all can see the possibility of emotional healing. I write to stay healthy. I write so that others can dream of living, moving from girlhood into womanhood, and know the possibilities of blooming and flowering without the fear of withering, petals drooping at the very glance of rejection. I write to save myself from gloom. I write because I have survived.
I write because survivors must write. How else would the world know that there are endless possibilities of overcoming and slaying the demons? How else would little girls know that there is hope, without words to express the trauma, confusion and awe in the journey of becoming a woman? I write to chart new waters. I write to map out new roads. I write to leave directions for others who will follow. I write so they would not have to be pioneers on this journey we take as women. I write to become whole. But you have heard all of this before … I write because I love mangoes and want to describe how I relished the taste of its yellow juice flowing down my hands and my slick quick tongue licking it into oblivion. I write to remember the rhythm and tempo of calypso, steelpan and the limbo. I write to feel the soothing current of the sea and walk the damp morning sandy beaches, again and again and again, pen on paper, again, and again, and again. I write because I must. I write because it is my duty. It has been ordained by Shango, that I be the scribe who honors the ancestors and their culture which must be remembered; inscribed for all the ages. I write so that I shall live and live joyously and with laughter. I write so that I can learn to laugh. I write so that others may smile. I write for tomorrow that which I have experienced today. I write because my words make music. I write because the moon told me to. I write in remembrance of Delilah who Samson blamed for his weakness of flesh, and for Mary Magdalene who was told she was mad because she proclaimed that Christ had risen, and the woman at the well, and Mary and Martha who had no story to tell but were ardent listeners to His stories, because they had no life story except through Him. I write in remembrance of the woman with the issue of blood, bleeding for twelve years and even though she was healed by touching the hem of His garment. She is still bleeding today, because she is we, women; we who bleed but do not die. I write in remembrance of Esther and Rebecca and Ruth and Miriam. I write for Pharaoh’s daughter who found Moses in the river. I write to tell the stories of the women then and the women now who have no voice to holler and scream with pen and voice. I write to tell the stories of mothers who lost their voices when they wombs bore fruits. I write for Mary who had no tears when her son rebuked her by saying, “can’t you see I am about my father’s business” and in front of his disciples, saying “woman my time has not yet come”. He showed not one ounce of emotions for she who bore him in her womb. How distraught she must have felt when all He spoke of and praised was His glorious father in heaven, while she watched him dragged, beaten and crucified wishing the earth would open and take her instead. I write because, at times, I can not cry. I write for words to express my fears. I write. I write. I write. I write because I must or else I die.
I write to slay the resounding voices of the committees in my head. I write because the silence scares me and I am afraid to drown in its shrilling emptiness. I write. I write. I write. I write so that my children will know who I am besides being their mother and the caretaker. I write so that they would know I too had dreams and hopes and wishes for a total life. I write so that they would know my story from the horse’s mouth, and not have to guess at maybes and possibilities of who and what they believed I am. I write to illuminate the question and denseness of this journey called the woman writer’s life.
I write because the children need a sane mother. A smiling sober mother. A mother who looks and acts as if she has all her marbles lined up and ready to win the game. I write because I am tired of being a raging lunatic. Tired of seeing myself in tears and knowing only that I must cry or I must choke up and die. I write so that I can soar sometimes, words being my wings of imagination. I write to keep me surfaced and not sinking, drowning in the depression I seem to have been born with. I write so that I can wean myself off Zoloft, and sit in an AA meeting and not feel that I have no chance of surviving without a drug or a drink. I write because I do not understand the anxiety. I cannot bear the anxiety. I write to learn how to live life on life’s terms - whatever that means. I write so that I can continue learning how to feel my feelings, how to comprehend the thoughts that race through my mind and make no sense, since every voice is screaming at the same time. I write to hear the whispers. I write to gain control of something that is still nebulous and fleeting; something ordinary people call happiness. I guess that is what it is. I write so that I can smile and feel the effects of a smile. I write so that I do not relate to the sadness which envelopes me and tells me that I cannot, I will not, I should not. I write to reverse the tapes in my head and give my brain a chance to think good thoughts. I write so that I can appreciate the sunrise and the sunset. I write so that I can take flight with the birds and hear their chirping and know that there is a higher power, a god or goddess who loves me just like these birds are loved and fed and cared for. I write so that I can appreciate the beauty of flowers and have dreams that are comforting. I write to slay the nightmares. I write to make sense of years of therapy and still after years of pouring out, more and more and more stuff keeps surfacing and making itself present for examination. I write to slay dragons. I write so that I can bleed on the pages of my diary and not all over my friends. I write because I was born with the blood of a writer, which I use as ink for my pen.
Copyright by R.H. Douglas
This is what Cora Schwartz, a mutual friend, wrote for her (Please read Rodlyn's essay first, though):