Why do I write? I have a love/hate relationship with this question. For me, writing is a personal outlet, a way to express myself, a relationship within an imagined world, my fantasies played out on paper–and I want to share all of that with anyone who would listen.
It started when I was around eight or nine. My favorite book was Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. My mother and I would sit and read and talk about the poems. It was our thing. My special way of bonding with a woman I saw less and less. See my mother suffers from bi-polar disorder or manic depression. I never knew if the person I was looking at would be frighteningly drunk and spouting off about marrying Kurt Kobain, or if she just wanted to lock herself away in her room.
So when my mother suggested that I start learning how to write poetry in the hopes that one day we would write a book of poetry together, I grabbed and held on to it as hard as I could. The writer inside me was born of desperation–a craving for love and attention. In my mind it would keep her around and bond us forever. It hurts to be wrong about something so important.
I was ten years old when my mother slipped deep into a manic state. I don’t know the details of her delusional thoughts, but I remember talking to her on the phone. She wanted to keep me and my sister safe from the men who were after her. She said they were watching her–said she didn’t want us to get hurt. It’s funny. Even then, I had some grand belief that she was coming back for us. I kept writing.
I don’t know when I finally realized I’d likely never see her again. Sporadic phone calls kept me clinging to hope, but at some point it I just knew. Over time my writing became less about her and more about me and how I felt. Without realizing it, I had signed myself up for therapy. A pen and paper were my therapists. Poetry spilled out of me, spelling out the hurt and anger I hid so well beneath my happy facade. To this day, I write poetry to express my feelings when I fall into bouts of depression.
Over the years I worked to improve. In the fifth grade I wrote a poem titled “There is no Poem,” which won me an award both in our Parish (county) fair and in the state’s Young Author’s Awards program. I think that’s when writing morphed again for me. While remaining something deeply personal, I also wrote to share with others. I knew I wanted to be a writer.
In high school I was a huge fan of Anne Rice. I think I must have read about fifteen of her books. And so sparked my interest in writing fiction. I have one hell of an imagination. The sheer amount of ideas I have are a testament to that. My senior year, I was working on a book about a fallen angel, a science fiction about a space station, and a few short stories. And then…college happened.
Being that I’m a girl from a farm town without much to do, and surrounded by countless churches, moving to Baton Rouge and attending LSU was a huge shock to my system. While I was already drinking–that having started when I was fifteen–my access to alcohol was limited to the random parties my friends would throw. Nights out in “Grandpa’s field,” or someone’s house whose parents didn’t care what they did. However, LSU is another beast all together. They should have a sign that says, “Welcome to the university surrounded by bars.” In walking distance, there are at least five of them–if you take one of the school’s buses, you can find six more only a couple of miles down the road–and they don’t exactly enforce the minimum age limit.
My writing took a hit. Fiction was out of the question. While poetry remained my source for therapeutic writing, I spent most of my time partying. I dropped out after two semesters and began a fun little downward spiral.
Thankfully, I bounced back. I married, had a daughter, went through the normal ups and downs of getting by, and now I am thirty-two. A little over a year ago, I decided I needed to start writing again. I joined a group on Facebook where I found the support of fellow writers. They taught me about the technical rules–adverbs, passive voice, show don’t tell, etc…. It has been amazing to watch my writing go from something written by a high school student, to something written by a semi-pro. I haven’t published anything yet, but I know that will come soon.
So why do I write? I write because it’s better than paying for a therapist. I write because it helps me to release all the internal emotions I keep bottled up…buried just beneath the surface. I write because I want to vicariously live through my characters in fantastical worlds. I write because it’s one of the few things I’m actually good at doing.
I write because life is cruel and the world is merciless. I write because the day-to-day, mundane, humdrum Pete and Repeat life would drive me insane otherwise.
I write because I have to.
Copyright © Sophie Giroir 2015