Why Do Writers Write?

Why does a writer write? This question has perplexed me. Determined, I began to read texts on linguistics and language development. The Treasure of Our Tongue by Lincoln Barnett was a good run through that detailed the formation of language, its purpose, and what path we follow developing how we “talk the way we talk”. However, I sought a direct answer—why this compulsion to pen words and leave them for others to see? Some people have a propensity to leave a mark. Cat pee? Monument? Milestone? Ego? The mere act of living tends to leave scratches and tracks from crag to cave.  However, I stumbled upon seemingly dissimilar photographs and a theory was born…

One photo, of bear tracks, and the other, ‘extra-terrestrial’ crop circles. Why would extra-terrestrials leave designs in a wheat field? Why does a bear leave tracks in the snow? Somehow, there is a connection. We all leave marks. And some marks are for specific reasons.

By leaving symbols and footprints, writers, bears, and aliens can affect, even if  the markings are just tracks of a wanderer. Some markings are intentional. Our ancestors learned to scribe hieroglyphs and symbols, chiseling and painting where a message would endure. Our modern markings end up in books, or on signs, or in the archives.

If the mysterious crop circle is a message, then it can affect. If the circle was intended to be read, then it can be interpreted. And if the circles are just physical contact points, then they are footprints. Does it matter if the wheat field designs are made by visitors from an other planet? Even if humans made the crop circles, for the objective observer the marks affect. They may have meaning, or they may be intricate graffiti.

The tracks of a bear can affect the actions of other travelers in the woods. Direction, size and health can be read. The bear can also be aware of its own tracks and manipulate a path for ambush, or to disguise paw prints and evade detection.

The writer affects using words. The writer can be read and interpreted. The writer is compelled to leave words in their stead. Written words are bolted to moon landers and satellites that spew forth at the hand of humans into the galaxy. Pioneer, Pathfinder, Apollo— all carry a plaque or a flag with a message. And they carry a hope beyond any message, simply to leave a footprint of our existence.

I see a connection between mystical markings, animals, and writers. They appear to exemplify a time honored tradition among living, coherent beings. They leave marks. Why does a writer write?

a) to affect
b) to be read
c) or because words just sweat off like footprints

For writers, I hope you succeed in being read, affecting, and leaving your mark. If words are footprints, lead on…

Today I bleed
upon the page
spent and reeling
courage fleeting
the call to dance despair comes often
may a stone be cast
might a seed be sown
oh hear me muse
upon the ages
that my words not be a friend forgotten

another original essay/poem/thought meal combo by gaboo.


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