It’s no secret that people write for a whole host of reasons. For some it’s therapeutic. For others it is a yearning to be published. Personally, I always thought that I write because I have to write.
I write because, when I don’t, I slowly descend through hyperactivity, hyperanalysis, self loathing, melancholy, depression, and anger, until I reach the dark world of hatred.
When I write I do not rise. I do not ascend to a better place. I simply achieve neutrality. I avoid sinking. And now, for the first time in my life, I realise why.
In his introduction to ‘The Illustrated Man’, Ray Bradbury says that he writes “so as not to have to be dead.” And that is it. When you have been in prison for as long as I have, and you have no concrete release date, you begin to wonder if you exist at all. Surely the whole point of existence is to have an effect. To leave something behind perhaps. Even if that is just a thought or an emotion within someone else.
Jail is like purgatory. You are still around, but you have no impact. No effect. The point of your existence is void. You slowly begin to die. But there are two ways out of pugatory. One is a tortuously meandering and slow death. The other is to fight back with an all consuming desire for life. To truly live you must reach beyond the confines of your cage. You must break down walls, unlock doors, scale the walls, and find a way to exist in the world beyond. You must do something, anything, to prove to yourself that you do have an effect, you do exist, and a part of you remains free.
But, for me, this is not limited to writing. In his introduction, Bradbury also compares sleep to death. He will write at any time of day or night because he writes to as not to be dead. I, on the other hand, do not see the necessity. I write in my sleep. I dream.
When I write I simply record the lives lived by those who dwell only within my head. Everything I ever write is the true story of a time that never was. Awake or asleep, they are all dreams. And every dream is a creation. To dream is to write. The recording comes later, when it is time to give the creation form.
So yes, I write and I dream, I record and I create. But, unlike Ray Bradbury, I do not write so as not to be dead. I write because I want to live. I write because it is the only way I can exist. I write, therefore I am.