Why I Write – Written November 11, 2002

I was once assigned a paper by a professor of mine, Mr. Gaspeny. This would have been no problem except that he said the paper required a title. I loathe titles – nothing that I write ever initially has a title. When I told Mr. Gaspeny said I don’t “do titles,” he said, “Well…the High Point English Department does.” All I wanted to say was, “Yeah, well, I don’t write for your English Department, I write for me.”

Lots of people have had lots to say about what I have written. Some love it, some despise it, others do both at the same time. Finding one’s literary identity is difficult when being called a prophet by one person and a heretic by another. What should be understood is that each of my works is written with the feelings I possess at the moment; some think I date my stories for the sake of a journal whereas the reality is that I date them to show progress in attitude. It is reflected within my works, or so I would like to think.

After I wrote my first analysis of a person, Alexis Winning, I had countless people ask that I write one about them. Each time another asked for me to write about them, I was more and more saddened about what it was I was doing. My writing existed for the public as a tool for education and inspiration; it was not intended to be a way to immortalize people and events. As I began thinking of how my words gave stories a way to live eternally, I realized how much what I wrote could mean to my world.

I do not think of myself as a great writer. I can hardly consider myself a good writer, if even a real writer at all. And yet others do, and as I write more I realize how much my audience’s opinion holds great weight. When I write, I immediately give my work to certain people (one of which is Gaspeny, by the way – he never complained about the lack of titles) to gain approval. More than approval, I seek recognition that I have produced something that has the ability to change how people think. If I can be the cause of an effect by my words, then I feel I have succeeded as a writer.

To this day, I say I write for myself. The more I think about it, I write for more than myself. I write in the hopes that some day my utterances will allow others to make comments of their own on other things, and the tree of knowledge may grow larger. People say the world has run out of real teachers, real philosophers, and true sages. Our system is run by charlatans who speak only of knowledge they feign possessing. So this is my apology, in the literary sense. Not from a teacher, nor philosopher, nor sage – from writer, a title that transcends any sibyl title. The most wonderful thing I hear from someone that reads what I have written is, “I didn’t even know you wrote it, but it really made me think.”

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