On Writing

It’s application season.

Making a career in journalism is all about landing internships to build your professional portfolio, and application season has begun for some of the most well-regarded summer internships in the business. I have spent a great deal of time this week polishing my resume, writing cover letters, collecting clips and generally applying to an unthinkable number of jobs for both spring and summer 2016. Eventually, the thought occurred to me: Why am I doing this? In other words:

Why do I write?

In many ways, I write because I have to. I write because I am better at conveying my ideas through written rather than spoken word. I write because it is cathartic and challenging all at once. I write because I love the immediate gratification of seeing my byline and saying, “Look, I made this.” And I write because constructing a decent, concise, interesting, understandable piece can be excruciating, but no matter the obstacles an article presents, the work is worth it because every story matters to someone in this world.

There are 32 journals lining one shelf in the closet of my childhood bedroom. Each is filled with a hand-written entry for nearly every day of the past seven years. If you read all 32 books cover-to-cover, I wouldn’t blame you for quietly exiting my life and never looking back. Those books — my most personal, vulnerable space — are my life story told in its most dramatic (and often cynical) form as each entry captures my most honest emotions.

I double underline “Friday” almost every week. I commemorate birthdays with stars and capital letters and exclamation points. I transcribe conversations and text messages and emails. I write letters that the intended recipients will never see. “I” appear on every single page. Some pages are dotted with tears, some have flower petals and movie tickets and newspaper clippings stuffed between them. And every entry ends with the tagline “bye for now”, and the last page of each book is a strangely sentimental “goodbye” to those stories.

My life is in those 32 books.

In this capacity, writing is my remedy. It is often explosive, it features a regular cast of characters, and it is the form of reality I have chosen to preserve. This writing marks an important distinction between my real life and my written life — real life presents few opportunities for such intense outbursts of extreme emotions, so I have to capture them in writing.

If you were to read this 32 volume, hand-written autobiography, you may come to understand me differently. That’s what I love about writing: the way you tell a story can transform perspectives. I write because I want to tell other people’s stories in the best, most accurate and most compelling forms in order to make change, or at least ignite a new conversation.

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