For those of us who write, it is a funny thing.
We cannot not do it—to stifle the words would be to choke back our breath, still our own heartbeats.
To stop our fingers would be to kill something vital, something precious, something that makes us deep, or dark or perhaps just terribly awake.
To stop writing would be to quiet the part of our souls that bears witness—to it all.
But to write. To write is to bleed. To write is to open the veins of our souls, the gravest, most lonesome parts of our beings, and allow them to find shape on a page, on a screen.
To write is to take our highest dream, and give it wings. To write is to look at our blackest nightmare, and give it face and form.
To write is to be terrified. To write is to be freed.
There are pieces of me, ripped from my soul and written in my blood, that would take me years to reveal to anyone—solid, permanent, for all to see, with a simple click of a mouse and a search engine.
To write is to be exposed.
To write is to travel the dark channels of our hearts where we have saved our secrets, built our survival mechanisms, and constructed our core identities.
To write is to explore the shadow self. To write is to chisel away at the walls of those tunnels. To cast light onto the shadow. To betray those secrets to ourselves, because maybe they are secrets others cannot give voice to.
To write is to question our coping skills. To write is to question our worlds, one word at a time. The more we see how words are built, the more we see how we, and others, have built these stories.
We tear them apart. We build them again.
We write because we know there are voices that need the words, stories that must be told. We bleed because we have made the decision that our blood will be the sacrifice for our brothers and sisters. We bare it all, so that they can know our stories, and learn, and perhaps not suffer.
We know that in our voices, in our words, we share a common humanity—a common love, a common grief, a common life, a shared experience.
We are afraid. Sometimes we are ashamed. With the love of our communities, we are supported. And so we write.
Because we have to. For ourselves. But mostly, we write for each other.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum