Shannon submitted this piece, and I felt it did an excellent job of describing the reasons why we write and the sometimes awkward moments we face as writers when someone says, “What do you do?” Please welcome Shannon as a guest blogger to Two Drops of Ink. Enjoy!
By: Shannon Hogan Cohen
I was sharing casual conversation over a cup of rosehip tea with tupelo honey, when a new acquaintance asked me, “Why do you write?”
Suddenly, I felt something I thought was a little odd – an inability to respond quickly or articulate an answer. Cutting the silence, I attempted to rush a reply, “It brings me joy.” I noticed the interest in her eyes fade and her focus wane as she continued sipping her steamy tea. My response must have seemed blasé. I tried again. “I like to create a world with my words.” This answer appeared to grab her attention; a bit of sparkle returned.
“So you write fiction?” she asked.
“Not exactly. I dabble in poetry but typically write narrative nonfiction. I enjoy fact-based storytelling, similar to personal essays,” I explained.
“Oh, like memoirs,” she quickly stated.
“More like diary entries with elements of dysfunction and discovery,” I added, attempting to evoke another emotional response and engage her enthusiasm.
We parted ways after an unfinished chat over our love of books, types of fictional characters she connects with, and her new love interest – a poodle puppy she named Fifi. With the talk of her poodle puppy, she reminded herself it was time to pick Fifi up from her grooming appointment which left me drinking cold tea while pondering the reasons why I write.
This afternoon chat was illuminating. Her question forced me to contemplate–deeply–what motivates me to unveil my innermost thoughts and feelings. No one had ever asked me why I write – only what I write.
I like details and, when speaking with others, I often feel rushed to find the right words and explanations. This has always been a problem for me. Ever since I can remember, I have had to hide my emotions and internal dialogue in order to formulate an answer. Naturally this takes time, and I end up feeling pressure to rush my response. I determined that this was the challenge I had experienced describing my affection for writing to my new friend.
My mental makeup prefers carefully selected words that, I believe, are the secret to having profound, powerful dialogue and expressing great stories. This opposed to rapid retorts that are often nerve-racking for me. Given the choice, I want to write what I have to say – not speak it. That’s what makes me a writer.
Writing is an opportunity to have conversations with myself, at my pace. I experience contentment when I am given the time to find the accurate words that describe how I feel versus an immediate response just to fill space in a conversation.
Writing brings me real joy. I feel fully alive when I write. My senses are ignited and intensified. I discover creative courageousness inside. It is fun finding the serenity within as I give meaning to jumbled thoughts, and I admire myself for being brave.
Writing is a platform for me to be me, without disguise. I am powerless when my words are not expressed. The fear of people failing to understand the concealed me can be damaging. I do not want to spend my life feeling rushed into reactive replies. Writing allows me to edit my existence. In constructing a story, I seek to reveal myself, I seek to be understood, and I seek to share.
Next time, I will tell my new friend that this is why I write.
Shannon Hogan Cohen
There has always been a special place in my heart for storytelling. I write because there is so much to say and my two teenage boys’ tire of listening to me. I write for insight, the more written, the more I learn about myself. My passion for life and learning drives my appetite for adventure. Interests include travelling and learning about different cultures. I am married to a man who joins me on this journey and encourages me to grow.
I enjoy writing personal essays of my life. Your continued feedback encourages me to experiment and push harder. I repeatedly push myself as a writer and a thinker and ask additional questions on how to expand. Your input reminds me each piece has an audience. It is my job to find the audience and serve it. Feel free to peruse my website at www.prolificpreambles.com to read my additional work.