The human mind has information stored in it, but sometimes has trouble recalling it. It recalls it by some graphite smudges on a piece of pulverized tree, or, more and more in today’s age, some electrons bombarding your retina. Writing isn’t just to communicate with ourselves, however, but also with others; instantly, new information can be created in their minds.
Some people speak with their eyes, some with their bodies. But everyone has a need to communicate. The difference for writers is that we need those words on the page to recall information. We need to look at a specific word and remember all the denotations and connotations that go with it, so that the word jolts our brains and says, “Here I am. I say what you are thinking. I say what you want to say.” Of course, we can’t always tell if our readers will think of the same thing when they see the word we choose, but there’s something in the striving to make that something you have to say perfect.
This brings up another reason to write: I write because I am a perfectionist. I feel queasy if I say something that seems to me an inaccuracy of what I really want to say. In speaking, it’s very difficult to go back and change what you’ve said; your speech can be riddled with poor word choices and have a clumsy sound. That’s why even speeches are written beforehand: you can change the diction and rearrange paragraphs to your heart’s delight. You can make what you have to say near perfect. At times for me, this means that I begin to understand more clearly what it is I want to say in the first place. For language, this means that words are fulfilling their purpose, are reaching to express the inexpressible as nearly as they can.
Lastly, linked with writing is the idea of permanence. I sort of like having my words preserved, not just in people’s memories, but so that they can continue to speak to new people. I chronicle my world as I see it – giving an account of history, possibly shaping how others view it. I dream about launching new ideas or inspiring people by saying something in a special way. And there’s something about knowing someone I’ve never met can read what I have to say. As nervous as that self-inflicted responsibility can make me, I know it’s a way of leaving a bigger mark on the world – hopefully changing it for the better. I don’t have many talents by which to do this, but I can write.
I write for not just the wholeness of my own mind or my own obsession with perfection – or my own need to be immortalized. I write to feel connected to others and help them feel connected to me. I write for the sake of language, that its constant use will maintain and morph ways to convey reality. I write because it is what I have.