So, Why Write?

This week I was reminded of the purpose and importance of creation.

Arcadia’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program and the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference host writers’ series events every semester, and I’ve become somewhat of a regular at these events. I love writing and I love hearing what these experienced writers have to share. The only downside? The events are on Friday nights, and for the last event, I was planning to use my Friday to catch up on Pretty Little Liars (PLL).

But, I will (almost) gladly give up an evening in PJs to chuckle along with writers chatting about their quirky writing habits and the various debacles of the publishing process. Local authors Sam Allingham, Janice Gable Bashman, and Blythe Davenport sat on a panel, ready to answer questions. As coffee-sipping audience members peppered them with questions, the conversation leaned toward the phenomenon of publishing. Every writer wants to be published, but once published the words are no longer the writer’s own. Once published, some freedom is gone. All of a sudden, the dynamic words that you could have endlessly rearranged, rethought, molded, and made better are fixed and static. Finished. No matter the medium, once an article is published in a magazine or a novel sent to the presses, it is the work a reader will know you by. Releasing work to the world can be an intimidating practice.

“So, why write?” Joshua Isard, the Director of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing, asked the room. “Why do we do it? There’s no money in it.”

After the uproarious laughter, the panel shared their own reasons one by one. For Davenport, she couldn’t imagine not writing. For Bashman, writing offers magic. Allingham feels a responsibility to write. “I mean, it’s the best thing humans can do, right? Second to music,” she said.

Why do I write, design and paint? Why do I create? Thinking creatively allows me to see and explore possibilities. Without creative experiences, I would not have been as effective creating promotional materials during my internship at the Michener. By applying the decision-making and outside-the-box thinking cultivated through creation, it was easier to organize information, create a visual hierarchy, and give the materials a distinctive, appealing look.

For me, creating is also one of the easiest ways to impact people. I may not be able to heal a physical wound (especially considering that I faint at the sight of blood), but I might be able to make someone laugh. I may be able to offer a bit of joy to the world. I’m so glad Arcadia cultivates this kind of thinking (and I’m so glad I took time away from my evening of PLL).

Photo by Logan Campbell