Monday, February 28, 2011

Why Do I Write?

I made a chart for myself today to try and figure out what it is that I like about writing. What I learned was that there is I write for several reasons, not one thing. I write to humor myself, to entertain, to communicate and to organize. In short, to share something. At different times, I have written for different reasons; sometime because I was in school or because I had an idea for a story to tell. I knew why I wrote when I had to, but the idea of writing specifically to share something is new to me.

This is different from "writing for the sake of writing" which would mean I can do it in a notebook no one sees. To be fair, I do that too, but that is when I am trying to visually organize thoughts or put down ideas without consideration for an audience.

Here is an example of what I mean about sharing. At bed time I often read stories to my daughters. The younger of the two wants me to read her the classics: Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree or Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are or sometimes that magnum opus of children's literature Barbie's Mix and Match Fashions. I enjoy reading these very much (mostly).

Reading to my ten-year-old is more difficult because she prefers I read chapter books. She has read all the Harry Potter books, the Percy Jacksons, she has memorized factoids for many children's series. Nonetheless, she will ask me to read to her from these books. While I do not dislike them, I find it difficult to read aloud at bedtime. My eyes are tired and my thoughts are on resting, not on building a story I will not finish in a few minutes. In addition, she often wants me to start reading half-way through the story. Maybe it would be different if she asked me to read from the beginning, but even then I would last only a few short pages. In order to vary the stories or keep them somewhat concise, I have started writing down or memorizing children's stories that I have made up, which I can then read to them, discuss with them or improvisationally change for effect.

What I am trying to do, is convert story reading time into storytelling time. Here I can use classics already written, or employ some of my own stories. This allows me to add variety and turning a bedtime exercise into more of an experience; a finished product, instead of a random idea.

Writing to share something is great! The experience of sharing with my girls? Amazing!

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