“Why We Write” #18: Dorothy Gale

Over the holiday, there were a series of essays by big wigs called “Why We Write.”

Whenever anyone asks me why I write, the immediate answer is that I don’t know how to do anything else. I do, of course – I can fill an ice tray like a pro and have on occasion sold sand to a beach – but really when I go to do something else for a job – and I have many many times done just that – nothing pans out, unless someone’s gonna start paying me to watch “Project Runway.”

I’ve been catching up on TV during the strike. Loved season two of “Dexter,” and today “Epitafios” and “Brotherhood” came in the mail. But the real treat has been season four of “The Wire,” a show that may as well be called “Thewireit’ssofuckingood.” Its final season starts this Sunday, a day that can’t come soon enough – and yet also, I dread for it to begin, because that means the end is all that much closer.

“The Wire” makes me want to write. And yet it is not why I write. In the episode I just finished watching, Bunk asks Freamon what someone does for a living. We always talk about our jobs as living.

But I suppose that’s why I write, because it is when I feel most alive – and paradoxically, the least present in the corporeal world. Or maybe that’s exactly why. When you’re in a moment, really in it, your head and your heart align and this voice comes from somewhere that isn’t you and suddenly, you forget about your hemorrhoids or masturbating or needing a handful of M&M’s with a Diet Coke chaser. You just are. For those blissful scenes, it is not a job.

I write to get into trouble. I write to murder. I write to fix the broken connections that occur every day with the people I love and hate the most.

I write because it’s my living.

5 responses to ““Why We Write” #18: Dorothy Gale”

  1. lane says:

    very interesting.

    In an odd coincidence I started reading an essay on Matisse on New Years Eve day, the artist’s birthday.

    In it he is quoted a having discovered in a little box of paints a world of absolute freedom where he was totally alone.

    Matisse was fully 20 when he discovered this, a trained law clerk, his decision to become an artist was deeply disappointing to his father.

    And yet think if he hadn’t. Without Matisse who knows what Picasso would have been? Without Matisse who knows what the 20th century would have looked like?

  2. Tim Wager says:

    WW, I really enjoyed this. I would love to feel this way more consistently about writing. As it is, it’s often agony. There are moments when writing feels like you describe it here, and I treasure them. Maybe if I did it more consistently it would get better. Wait! I sense a resolution coming on.

  3. Dave says:

    I see a regular contributor’s slot at TGW coming on.

  4. Tim says:

    Always trying to find ways to make others’ pain benefit the Whatsit, Dave?

  5. I love this. You’re obviously feeling this out. It’s not a definite answer or a permanent answer. This post is a work-in-progress; it’ll change over time the more you think about it.

    I also love it because it’s something we all have an answer for, and my answer is different than yours.