Musing on the topic of “Why I Write” feels a little indulgent, as not everyone writes or even necessarily cares why I write.
Hear me out.
I, obviously, love writers and reading about their processes. I AM a writer. I teach writing. I read books (particularly memoirs) LIKE IT’S MY JOB. But waxing prosaic about my own writing? Ugh. It just feels self-absorbed and I am strangely resistant to it.
But when I consider this idea in the context of generalized creativity, I’m intrigued. It’s a more broadly applicable, far-reaching subject when it’s phrased as: “Why I Create.”
Elder Richard G. Scott said, “Creativity can engender a spirit of gratitude for life and for what the Lord has woven into your being.”
Whoa. This. Yes.
The urge to create is fundamental to being human. We long for the divine, I believe, because we miss the wholeness of dwelling with our Heavenly Parents. Any attempts at creativity tap into our divine heritage and allow God to speak to us through the Holy Spirit. In being creative, we learn more about Jesus, who both created the earth and single-handedly orchestrated the Infinite Atonement for all our benefit.
In other words, creativity, not cleanliness, is next to godliness.
In my fledgling writing days, I was energized by the feeling that my voice was crackling—breaking free from inward isolation to find connection with the world at large. I wrote what I knew, as all good writers are heartily encouraged to do. In my case, this meant writing about special-needs parenting. I told the truth about our unusual family life.
I was surprised to find how quickly my parenting life changed from something that seemed shameful in its difference, to something special in its uniqueness. When I wrote, people started understanding my weird life. They saw the relentless challenge of raising a profoundly disabled nonverbal son, as well as two of his brothers who are also touched by autism and other diagnoses. I was now the protagonist in the first-person narrative of my writing, and readers were seeing our lives sympathetically.
It was a sea-change.
Writing took my alien family life and presented it to the world as simply one family’s life, not so different from their own, just underscored with the rigors of disabilities.
What has happened in the seven intervening writing-filled years has been life-changing. This is what I have learned:
- Being creative is one of the clearest, most direct ways I engage with the Holy Spirit. When I write, I feel a surge of spiritual energy infusing me with truth beyond my own current understanding. Often it begins with a single mental image that I turn over and over in my mind, until the words on the screen match the beauty of the vision God has put in my head. It’s an exciting process, because I’m not working alone. It’s an ongoing exercise in accessing spirituality.
- Telling my family’s story is witnessing to the reality of Heavenly Parents who give us strength to meet our challenges. The story of Jack et al. is not just our story. It’s not a blogger-ish Instagram-y tale starring a mom with a wide-brimmed hat and an all-white kitchen. (BTW, I own neither, but I happen to like both trends, so holster your weapons.) It’s a story repeated throughout scripture, of God empowering his children when they turn to Him. It’s the story of seeking righteousness as a means of survival and sanctification. The story of my life is the story of accessing Jesus Christ’s strength to heal the most impossible hurts.
- And finally, I write because God told me to. He tells me to. He is my creative wellspring.
So that’s it. That’s my story. I just work here. I am only one voice.
I am merely a foot soldier, walking and writing the story of my life.