Late night thoughts: Why do I write?

I can’t sleep. In my corner of the world is past 3am. I was reading. Then, out of the blue, I decided to write. Why do I write?

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Credit: edutech4teachers.edublogs.org

I am 49 and change, and I have been writing things intended to be read by people in other walks of life for only the last four years or so.

Many moons ago, in a world where I was 40-something pounds lighter and had a full head of hair, I used to write poetry. This was in my late teens and early twenties; in Spanish mind you, and I was quite good at it. I even won prizes in university. Alas, my main motivation was hardly for the love of literature; it was essentially to impress pretty girls; no more, no less.

My next writing activities were scientific. I Helped write a variety of scientific papers in the 1990s and early 2000s and during that same period I wrote two almost book-length works, a thesis and a dissertation. Oh how I loved writing those! I really mean it; it gave me the feeling of having accomplished something productive, like I “built” something with my mind.

Since 2005, as the leader of my own research group, I have written several scientific papers, many of them well-cited, that helped establish my reputation in my chosen field and gave me the opportunity to meet like-minded people.

As much as I loved writing science, the bare truth is that my scientific works have a quite limited audience, made primarily of people who ask nature more or less the same questions that I do.

Lately, I have been very active in my blogging. Even though I write mostly about science for the general public, I do not limit myself to that. I essentially write about whatever I want. When I wildly speculate, as when I write about things I know little about (like in a certain philosophical post for example) I unequivocally state so, but that does not stop me from expressing my opinion. I have also written about autism, of which I have close to 14 years of experience. In fact, I believe that my autism posts are the ones that best capture the essence of how I think.  Check out this one. I have many others if you are interested…

Also, I have also written quite a few book reviews (I am a fair but tough reviewer), I have written a book of my own and finally, I have even been dabbling on fiction lately. I am thinking about publishing something in these lines soon.

So, why do I write, especially to non-scientists? In the specific case of science to the general public, I have listed several valid reasons in another post. I strongly believe that science writing, in any type of medium, must be done with a big sense of responsibility and honesty. I talk about it here , here, and here.

As for most of my other writings, if pressed for a concrete answer, simply stated, I write to transfer the ideas from my inner world to the written word.

That being said, I have found myself thinking, asking myself, if I would still write even if no one ever reads me. I have to be honest. I would like to feel that I would not care whether people read me or not. I’d like to think that I simply write with no expectations. The thing is that I do not think that is the case.

I want my voice to be heard; I have discovered that I have something a lot of things to say…

Why bother? I frequently ask myself this question. I do not believe that I have anything transcendental to share with the world, nothing that would change society in any noticeable way. However, I still want to be heard. I want the world to know that “I am here” and that I generate thoughts, that I use my mind to contemplate my reality. Narcissistic? Conceited? If it sounds like it, please forgive me.

The bare truth is that sometimes I do not quite know why do I write.

On the other hand, I do know that I love doing it and I do it because I feel like it.

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Melissadouthit.com

P.S. I found this site with a whole lot of beautiful, practical, thoughtful and whimsical reasons to write.

Thanks for reading me.

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5 Comments

  1. I understand. I started blogging as a way to move beyond academic writing. It is a way to strengthen my writing skills so that I am happy with the results. But to be honest, the validation of others is a big influence on my topic of choice. I think all bloggers share the need to have our voices heard. It is our chance to shout out in a world in which most of us are just whispers. But, I have found the most rewarding aspect of blogging (at least for me) is when I go back and look at an old post and think, “wow, I wrote that?!” So, I will keep blogging knowing that while my voice may remain a whisper to others, I am starting to please my harshest critic, me.

    1. Exactly!!!! Sometimes I feel a little guilty when I keep checking of someone read my posts. It is similar to when I post something on Facebook or Twitter and I keep checking it to see if it was “liked” or “favorited”. I guess is the search for validation that you talked about. I have also looked back and I am either very proud or quite embarrassed of what I have written… Thanks for your comment!

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