Why do I write? There are actually many answers to this question. Writing is very important to me because it connects every phase of my life: from childhood, to adolescence, and eventually adulthood. It is through writing that my best memories of the past are kept, and my dreams and goals are recorded for future contemplation. I find that it is important to know how I began to write, in order to see the many reasons why I write.
My interest in writing began shortly after I fell in love with reading. I was fascinated with books ever since I can remember. My earliest memories of reading include memorizing and reciting the first two or three pages of Hansel and Gretel to anyone who would listen. Some time later, I remember reading up to the fifth page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and proudly announcing it to everyone at lunch.
I feel I must give credit to my parents; apparently, reading is in my genes. My dad has an astounding collection of books and magazines that take up his entire room, and my mom has a shelf of neatly stacked Reader’s Digests since 2002. When not busy working or tidying up the house, I often saw my parents lying on the bed or on the sofa, reading. Most of the books I read as a kid, however, belonged to my older sister. Before Harry Potter, I was enchanted by another series: the fantastic stories of The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.
I suppose the moment I fell in love with reading happened throughout my childhood. Reading and those stories of fantastic and funny lands found atop a magical tree in the middle of an Enchanted Wood, and many other stories, was the highlight of my childhood. I almost feel like I had never gone to school as a kid, because a lot of my memories then involve reading. When I got particularly excited to read, I would stack books up one on top of the other and pretend to be checking them out of a library, after that I would place them inside my bag and pretend to walk back to my house.
If it isn’t obvious yet, I’d like to mention that I was a quiet kid. I cannot blame reading for my being shy, but I could attribute my lack of interest in what was going on in school (besides schoolwork of course) to reading. I suppose I felt disappointed by the fact that I did not have a life similar to the children in the books I had read.
When I read, I feel-as I am sure anyone who has read has felt-like I have left this world momentarily, and joined the world of whatever book I’m reading. I believe when books get reviews that say “hard to put down” or “page-turner,” it means that the book is so engrossing that it’s hard to shake the reader out of the world they’d been sucked into, which is why it is possible for some to spend the whole day reading, and not even eat. Reading can make you forget what’s happening around you because some authors have the ability to create detailed worlds and situations that can make the reader feel like he or she is in that moment, at that place. It does not even need to be a book about adventure or fantasy; it could be a biography, or even a news article.
I suppose it is natural for anyone who loves to read to love to write as well, which is why it was necessary for me to begin my essay by describing my love for reading. And so the first answer to why I write is this: I write because I want to create. I thought that if it was that much fun to read and get lost in another world, would it be even more fun to create my own world, and fill it in with my own ideas. That was the plan I had in my mind when I began to write at a young age.
But it isn’t easy to write just when you feel like writing. I tried to emulate the authors of the books, by creating a story that was all magical and fantastic. The problem was that it had already been done. I realized that every idea I had came from something that I had already read, and so nothing in my stories was original. Even then I worried myself thinking about how no one would buy a book that had the same story as every other book. I kept trying, though. After scrapping one story for being unoriginal, I would begin a new one, but then either lose interest, or find it too hard to research, and scrap it, too.
This cycle continued for years. By the time I got to high school, I was still rather quiet, but I had a wider circle of friends I could exchange ideas with. High school life was more interesting. I began to notice what was going on around me: the rumors, the gossip. Rumors are basically stories, and stories were what I hungered for ever since I was a child. My new discovery fueled my desire to write. I thought that if I couldn’t come up with a good story, I take real-life events and manipulate them to create something fantastical. For instance, a simple fight between two groups of girls would be a base for me to create a story of espionage and betrayal; a lost class treasury jar would be bait set up by the unpopular girl in class in an attempt to steal the popularity of the class officers.
And so we have the second answer to why I write: for entertainment, or to make life more interesting. By this time, too, the magic of books was weakening. I had actually developed a slight dislike for books, especially the classics required for English class, because of the fact that we were required to read them in their small text and difficult language. My desire to learn new things and discover new worlds through reading greatly lessened. However, I made up for it by writing more. By the end of high school, I would have written over fifty stories, most of them based on real life situations.
After graduation and the discovery that I had made it into an Honors Program in Ateneo de Manila University, I felt a mixture of emotions. First and foremost was the aching feeling of sadness, for we were all going our separate ways and knew we’d see less of each other. I also felt terrified; my family, friends, and teachers were all proud of me for getting into Management Engineering, but I had no idea what I got myself into, and I couldn’t have known how difficult it was back then. On the other hand, I also felt excited it was another world I was getting into. I’d be around people I hadn’t grown up with, complete strangers. I’d be able to start over, create a new version of me.
It is during the first weeks of college when the most exciting things happen. My problem then became having no one to talk to about these new experiences. Of course, I could talk to my friends (who had gone to other universities) but I had to take into consideration the fact that they had their own experiences, separate from mine, and so telling them about even the smallest events of my day would be pointless. The first week and a half of college was also the week I spent alone. I was the only one from my school in that course, and as you already know, I was very shy and quiet so making friends with my block mates was not really my thing. I did not feel lonely, though, during these days because I was writing. I had begun a new blog, a blog that will be about my four years of college, with the intention of reading it one day, after graduation.
I did not feel lonely because I was observing everything around me, and thinking of what I could write. This time, I couldn’t create stories out of what was happening because the plan I had in mind was to write my blog as an online journal. And I filled it up well; I would post every week basically any thought or event college-related. I felt that it was easier to write down my thoughts than to write down stories. I no longer stared at the blinking line waiting for me to type something. The words just kept flowing, and it didn’t matter if what I was writing was continuous and consistent with what I had written earlier. I was basically just writing, spurting out word after word, one thought after another. I found it incredibly enjoyable. And that brings me to my last answer to why I write: I write to express and reflect on myself.
Since college began, I noticed a change in how I wrote. As a kid, I wrote constrainedly. I would tend to copy the writing style of the most recent book I had finished, so the words felt like they had come from a child trying (and failing) to sound like an adult. As a teenager, the writing good better in terms of style, but it was still heavily influenced by other writers’ way of writing. And now I’ve reached this point where I no longer have a basis for my style of writing since very few of the books I read are written in the first person. I notice that I wrote more freely, and reading my past posts made me feel connected with myself.
I realized that I was able to write a lot more than I could say out loud. With writing, you have more time to think about what you want to say, but at the same time, you don’t have to care about what you say anyway because nobody can judge you but yourself and your reader. I suppose it was for that reason that I felt comfortable just letting my thoughts and feeling gush out onto the screen or paper. I didn’t have to be shy about expressing myself through writing because writing involves only my thoughts and me, while expressing myself in words involves having to look at the person you are revealing yourself to, with the fear that you are being judged.
And as I mentioned before, reading takes people into another world where they can live out the events of a character’s life. Reading about events in my own life was interesting. On one hand, I still felt like I was seeing through the eyes of a character, and not my own. But I was also able to relate to what was happening then. I was remembering the details of that day, or of why I had written that post. I was actually able to reflect. It’s easier to reflect on an event after reading about it weeks or months after it had happened, which is why it is useful to keep a record of events in a blog.
My past method of reflecting was to lay awake in bed the night of the event and think. The problem with that was of reflecting is that it could be done only once or twice. After the event had passed, so had the reflection. In writing, however, you can reread your thoughts during different times of your life, when you’re happy, angry, or depressed, and notice the different reactions you would have to that event. And often, rereading my old posts is what triggers me to write a new post, a reflection post.
So why do I write? I write to create, I write for my own entertainment, and I write to express and reflect. Writing wasn’t easy, and the harder I tried, the more disappointing it was to realize that I could never be a good writer and make people see a world that I created myself. So I made do with the real world that I did have, and extract the interesting bits out of it to be bases for what I would write. When I was faced with an entirely new world of college life, I found writing about it very enjoyable.
My writing grows up alongside me. It was my first ambition, and probably will always be, to write a book, create a story, that would give another kid the childhood I had loved, or make him or her feel the way I felt when I got lost in the stories of children climbing to the top the Faraway tree in the Enchanted Wood to reach the worlds beyond. With this, I now realize the most important reason for why I write: I write with the hope that I can affect or change someone’s life the way reading affected mine.