Saturday, November 13, 2010

Why I Write

Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”- Don Delillo

Every so often, I'm reminded of how different I am. The surface stuff is obvious. I come from a place in South America where not many people have been or even heard of. I grew up in the Midwest going to Catholic Republican school where I was often teased as the only Black kid in the class. Then went to a bourgeois Black high school where in most circles I wasn't Black enough. Besides that, the way I've chosen to deal with my relationships and my career are baffling to some. Sometimes I must sit with the knowledge that I have literally never been in a place where I've fit in... ever. There is some joy in that knowledge, but mostly there's a sense of defensive exhaustion. Of having to constantly explain to others and to myself why it's OK that I am the way I am. Pretty ambiguous statements, I know, but anyone who has ever felt different knows what I'm talking about.

But that is why I write. To keep from getting swallowed up in a world that threatens to shame me into being something else: Blacker or Whiter (whatever that means); less old-fashioned; less progressive; more rebellious; less independent; less contradictory; more traditional; more maternal; less random. But every time I sit down to write I can fold myself into myself jump into a world of my own making where there is no need to defend any of it. 


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