This is from our Why I Write Series
On a daily basis, I write to persuade. I write to win an argument, to present logical thoughts that lead, inexorably, to the conclusion that is best fitted to my client’s interests. I write sometimes against what I think is the best outcome, from a social or human viewpoint, but in my business, that is irrelevant. I write to win my cases, whether the argument feels good or not, whether it’s a creative or not and whether I particularly believe in it or not.
Which is why I write here. I write here to be creative, to try to stay in touch with a creative me, which is a side of me that started to wither on the vine sometime around age 10 or so. Rather than live in my head with a vibrant inside story, I started to live in the tangible world. There are a lot of upsides to living this way, but it is not a very creative way to live. Writing, for me, means being creative in a way that I don’t make time to be in my daily, buttoned-down, stuffy professional life.
So I guess I write here in order to foster my own creativity.
I write here to tell my dad’s stories. Well, I started writing here to air his stories. I wanted to air his stories because I see them as unique, individual snowflakes representing a different era, a different way of being in the world. In my organized, safe world, I never jump without looking first. In my dad’s hitchhiking days, he went wherever he was going. He flagrantly disobeyed the law, dodged the draft, snuck across borders, got caught violating various ordinances and laws, managed to invite the interest of the FBI. From my perspective, his life was so much more interesting, so much more courageous. He got in the car with strangers, and lived by a moral code that he defined on his own, rather than by the rules society imposed on him – or tried to. I write his stories because, as a rules-abiding person, I am in awe of those who can break the rules and get away with it.
So I guess I write in order to live a life I don’t have the courage to live.
Lately, though, I’ve been writing – if I’m honest with myself – as a form of therapy. I’m not particularly adept at introspection and realizing what’s going on for me, emotionally. (See comment, above, about living in the tangible outside world.) So, as my parents face a divorce after over 40 years of marriage, as my partner and I contemplate whether – in light of our differing feelings about marriage – we can remain together, I write to figure out what I think and feel. It seems like, until I sit down and my mind is forced to contemplate, slowly, what’s happening, I simply don’t contemplate at all. Which feels like it translates into not really absorbing, processing or feeling what’s happening. And that can’t be healthy.
So, I guess I write in order to be healthy.
Cara Sherman is a student in Seth Fischer’s advanced nonfiction class. She is from rural Northern California (north even of Sacramento), where she had every pet imaginable and went to a high school with a rodeo team. During the day she moonlights as a corporate attorney. Otherwise she snowboards, Crossfits, tries to write a book of her Dad’s hitchhiking adventures, plays with puppies as often as possible and tries desperately to be on time to her WWLA classes. She usually fails.