[Note: This is the prepared text for a speech given April 27, 2014 at the Portland UCG Spokesman’s Club.]
There once was a chicken
Whose face was quite stricken,
For he knew it was time
For his master to dine,
For knew he would taste finger lickin’.
Thus begins one of the first poems I ever wrote, as a nine year old in the forth grade, and in the years since then I have written much more. All of us have hobbies or even passions that we spend a great deal of time honing and practicing that have helped us develop and refine who we are and how we deal with the world. Today, I would like to take at least a few minutes to discuss some of the reasons why I write, in the hope that we may all examine the reasons why we do what we do.
The main reason why I write is that it was first required by school and refined through frequent homework. I wrote my first poems in the fourth grade as a school assignment, including the limerick I began with today. I wrote my first play as part of a school assignment as a ninth grader about Greek History. I wrote the vast majority of my first few dozen essays as a student in school. The same is true for my first short stories, written as a high school student. Even the first speech I gave at the age of ten came about through an opportunity from school. Likewise, the first articles I wrote as a journalist came about because of my work with Debbie Werner for the ABC Times while in Cincinnati. The forms of writing that I choose to express myself are largely those I have been exposed to as a result of my studies, practiced due to necessity and then chosen for familiarity and comfort later on.
An important secondary reason why I write is that writing provides a way for me to express my thoughts and feelings without personal conflict. For a variety of personal reasons, I am both someone who feels a great and urgent need to express myself often and deeply and sincerely but who also finds face-to-face arguments and fights to be extremely unpleasant. Writing, along with music, represent the primary ways in which I say what needs to be said at arm’s length, so that it can be done without the threat of violence but which allow for some expression of both the thoughts and feelings I have about life.
Finally, I have used writing as a way to refine my opinions and beliefs in the process of expression. There are some people who can think best internally, keeping close counsel with themselves as they mull over a given issue or situation. Unfortunately, I tend to stew rather unproductively over issues unless I have a means of expressing my thoughts, and in the process of speaking or writing editing and clarifying and refining those thoughts until I properly understand them. For me, I must bring what is inside to the outside, and deal with it externally before placing it back inside of me after the reflection that occurs through the labor of putting thoughts and feelings and impressions and analysis onto a page or a screen. I must admit, though, it has been tempting to wish that I had a better ability to keep things inside, as it would make life much less troublesome, but I have been unable to do so very successfully.
Today I have sought to explore some of the reasons why I write, based on those forms that I have practiced through years of schooling, as a way of self-expression and self-preservation that avoids painful interpersonal conflict, and that helps to refine the content of the thoughts and feelings inside of me through the process of writing itself. No doubt many of you have similar passions that have resulted from your own mixture of life experiences and native personality, and perhaps reflecting for a moment on your own passions and avocations may be similarly fruitful for you also. For it is immensely useful for us to have at least some grasp of understanding why we do the things we do. Thank you all.