Commentary: Why We Write

Photo by Yannick Pulver on Unsplash

Vanguard Incarcerated Press bannerBy D. Razor Babb

There are as many reasons why we write as there are synonyms in a thesaurus.  Chris Freese, a writer at Writer’s Digest magazine, says, “Stories come from the subconscious. What drives you to write, to some extent, are your unresolved conflicts.” From his informed perspective, conflict is the fount from which the wellspring of writing flows.

When Stephen King enumerated his “Twenty Tips for Writing” his number one tip was: “First write for self, then worry about the audience.” In writing for self, we reveal a multitude of thoughts, emotions, memories, and conflicts. It’s a personal journey through our psyche.

Jason Davis, a graduate of the Incarcerated Journalists Training program at Mule Creek, says, “Being incarcerated I felt isolated and cut off from the outside world. Writing allows connection, it makes me feel free. I found something that doesn’t confine me to a place or time.”

All Rice, an editor at the Mule Creek Post says, “I write to express myself, to learn about myself. When I can put it down on paper it helps me to understand better. I can hold it in my hands and turn it around in different ways to see the flaws and the beauty.”

A failed escape attempt in 1998 from the roof of the L.A. County Jail left me physically incapacitated and facing a life term with no prospects. With no way to support myself, I took to writing. I could either lie there and rot, or write. I wrote. The novel Icicle Bill turned not only into a source of income, but it freed my mind from the jail cell and from my disability. Along the way I discovered my purpose, my soul, and my interconnectedness to others.

Since then I’ve had the good fortune to work with many prisoner writers and help them get their work completed and out there. That kind of sharing provides dividends that makes life, even in a cage, worth living.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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