"Miss, why do you write?"

The title is the simple and complex question from one of my students today when I told them that for my birthday I was doing a writing lock-in. She couldn’t understand why I would want to do that or be excited by it. When I told her writing is a compulsion I had to explain compulsion. (What would you expect? They’re my English Language Learners and while they may not speak English as their first language I will defend my point that they are brilliant for being able to work in two languages to anyone who is fool enough to think otherwise based on accents.) Explaining compulsion is what really got me thinking.

I write because I have to. It’s not that it’s the only way I express myself because I show the beauty in the world in my art and photographs. I show the range of feeling through music and theatre. So, what is it that makes writing not just something I love, but something that I MUST do? Honestly, I haven’t figured it out. It’s been tossed around in my head all day and I just don’t know. How do I explain my need to write and my OCD love of books? I love the scent of paper and ink. (I agree with Giles that “Knowledge should be smelly”) I love the feel of a pen on paper or the rhythm of typing. I love the sound of it. It’s very textured for me. Very tactile.

When I told my student that I couldn’t explain she asked me, “What inspires you?” (I was so proud of the vocabulary word usage!) When I told her benches (see my favorite bench at the top of the page), manholes, rocks, trees, fire hydrants, weird street signs, fashion, animals, sunsets, the ocean, lakes, colours, music, and anything else that she sees around her that people take for granted she looked at me like I was crazy. Maybe I am. She asked me about paperclips and I told her I could write a story about a paperclip so she challenged me to make on up on the spot. By the time we got to the end of this five minute discussion the paperclip wanted to be a staple so that it could stay in one place because it had gotten tired of moving from one stack of papers to another. It then talked with a staple and decided they didn’t have it any better being a staple because they were often forgotten and bent out of shape and it wanted to be free. It was actually fairly interesting and my students were fascinated that their teacher has such a strange imagination. But they enjoyed it and asked to write a stories next year. I told them I would work it in.

All that being said, I’ve decided that one of my goals this summer is going to be to put together a slide show of things that inspire me. I will put together a slide show of the pictures in my writing notebooks and take pictures of more things. I’m going to include that here for people who really are interested in what makes as spec-fic author write, let alone a nutjob who can write a story about a paperclip. 😛

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