Why Write?


This is the fact: you could be long dead before people appreciate your writing. It’s happened plenty to writers of the first rank: jealousy, stupidity, war–in other words, plain old politics–obscured their talent and contributions. So, if fame and fortune are hard to find, just why are you writing?

From personal experience, RT can tell you that this is not a popular question at cocktail parties. Even less popular is quoting the Elements of Style: Writing is an act of faith. To help you (and me) answer this little demon of a question, here are some answers:

1) I have to write. To confirm the truth of this motivation, go to a new or small poetry reading. Chances are you’re not going to meet successful people there. Folks are doing OK; they’re getting by; they’re dealing with their issues–but nobody owns a BMW.

2) I’m in love with writing. You can’t get more corn pone than this, but at least it saves you from discussing the eviction notice you recently received. Getting your words out there feels great.

3) My writing is important. This one will really steam your interlocutor. But think about it: are you telling me that Shakespeare, Du Fu, Charlotte Bronte, Leo Tolstoy didn’t know that what they were doing mattered? Of course, no one in our generation has the right to exist on their artistic level, but you can always hope.

4) Because I’m a romantic. So what if people think you’re a wastrel sipping absinthe every night? Notoriety gets attention.

5) Because what I do matters. This is the dirty little secret that the contemporary world prefers to ignore. We are responsible. We have an obligation to make the world a better place. We must not cheat the gifts we have been given.

Writers are entitled to a full life like everyone else: community, acknowledgement, pleasure are as important to us as to anyone. But we keep one eye on the far horizon of history.    RT


Art: Mental Reactions; A.E. Meyer; WikiCmns; Public Domain.


  1. April 22, 2012 at 5:21 am

    Great post. I kept telling myself for years I should write. Now that I’m blogging and getting into a daily writing habit, I feel like I keep asking myself this question over and over again. Always nice to have a reminder that anyone has a valid voice and therefore, a valid reason to write.

    • April 22, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Nicole: you have an interesting blog…& who knows where your writing habit may take you…your enthusiasm is much appreciated! RT

  2. April 22, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    I love writing, I love writing, I love writing. Thank you for sharing this.

    • April 23, 2012 at 12:39 am

      tWA: believe in yourself; believe in your writing…thx for your enthusiasm! RT

  3. April 22, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    so true. if you’re not in love with writing it’s not something you should do. it’s not about anything else, it’s about that: knowing you can’t live without writing.
    loved this post 🙂 x

  4. April 23, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Well said.

  5. April 23, 2012 at 12:41 am

    GSohE: your happiness as a writer will get you where you want to be…thx for sharing your thoughts! RT

  6. April 23, 2012 at 12:43 am

    QC: thanks for stopping by (and for your thoughtful blog)… RT

  7. April 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I think it’s when we cease to have doubts that we risk slipping into a place where we aren’t as effective. It seems that it’s all a necessary part of the process, but it’s always helpful to remind myself of all the things you’ve laid out here. Great post, RT.

    • April 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      Emma: it’s necessary to have at least one foot in the world…we all have pressing business that requires attention. A mother with young children needs no reminding of the realities…and your poetry is richer for its roots in your day-to-day life. Keeping your ear to the ground helps more than the household budget, it seems… RT

  8. May 9, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    Hello you. How are you doing?

    How do you feel about reblogs? I would like to reblog this post. It seems a benign action but I want to make sure you are okay with it.


    • May 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      margo: it’s not like i’m not reblogging liberally at this point. by all means, please go ahead and repost; i’m honored by your request. eric

    • May 10, 2012 at 6:57 pm

      Thank you for reblogging Margo ! Loved the post and the comemnts 🙂

      • May 11, 2012 at 7:10 pm

        My pleasure, Lady N 🙂

  9. May 10, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Reblogged this on Margo Roby: Wordgathering and commented:
    I mention The Rag Tree occasionally and send you its way. I love the author’s intelligence and humour. The question he asks is one that has probably appeared before us all in one way or another. I like having the possibilities laid out for me to consider.

    • May 12, 2012 at 6:18 am

      margo: thanks as always for your good offices as ministering angel…we do not have enough inspired supporters among us… eric

      • May 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm


      • May 12, 2012 at 11:28 pm

        you win margo…this is a bigger problem than the one i’m facing…

      • May 12, 2012 at 11:47 pm

        I missed something, Eric. What?

  10. Janet
    May 10, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Found this through Margo’s re-blog! this is our exact assignment for the nest Writer’s Group meeting that I attend. Why do we write? I’ve never contemplated it seriously enough to put in words why I write. Thank-you RT and Margo…RT, I enjoyed every ‘reason’ you mentioned and can relate! Suddenly I feel inspired to do my homework! Thank-you~

    • May 12, 2012 at 6:15 am

      Janet: I’m glad the post helped you with your assignment & hope that you will keep finding reasons to put down your words as you want to…why not commit ourselves to eternity? RT

      • Janet
        May 12, 2012 at 11:58 am


  11. May 10, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    I write because I must. A more fruitful question I shoulld ask myself is “why does anyone read what I write?”

    • May 10, 2012 at 5:32 pm

      Yay, Janet! Serendipity is good 🙂

    • May 10, 2012 at 5:33 pm

      Because you make us smile, laugh, groan with sympathy, ViV. You poetry is accessible.


    • May 10, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Exactly my question to you 😉
      you make me feel blessed with kind words i get on ym psots !

      As to “why I write ” .. what else am i supposed to do with the ideas in my head ?

      • May 12, 2012 at 6:07 am

        LN: what else can we do with our ideas except add them to the great digital conversation? Thank you for your enthusiastic feedback! RT

    • May 12, 2012 at 6:09 am

      VIF: i have a sneaking suspicion that they read you because you are worth reading! RT

  12. May 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    RT I write because I breath. It’s that simple. And I read my friends because they share their craft, teach me new things, make me go OOOh, OOOO! and laugh.

    • May 12, 2012 at 5:58 am

      JP: a romantic comment, if ever there were–and so much the better. We need all the romantics we can get! RT

  13. May 13, 2012 at 12:20 am

    Margo: –oops–my mistake–this comment belongs in the “You’re my Father” remarks. Will post it there…eric

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