I Write Because I Want to Know

By Brent King On March 16, 2014 Under Writing

“I write to understand as much as to be understood” (Elie Wiesel).


Catching the Vapor

Sometimes reality doesn’t make sense to me, not because ultimate reality is senseless, but because I am a newcomer to existence and truth. Success in understanding these things has come to me in two ways: prayer and writing. Prayer is like sitting down at the piano and playing whatever comes. It’s beautiful in the minute, but the next it is gone. And if someone asks me, “Could you play that last part? It was beautiful!”, I say, “I thought so too, but I can’t remember it.” Yet my writing solidifies that illusive vapor of inspiration, pins it down and awes me with a sheet of things I’ve never spoken, thought, or heard before.

Finding the Words

The ink flowing onto the page focuses my attention by committing to words the thoughts swirling through my mind. When the words won’t come, it’s no big deal. It just means that piece of truth isn’t clear in my mind yet. Inspiration isn’t ready, but it will find a way. Often, I just need a break—for an hour or a month—to think. A walk, a trip, a job—any of these things can fill my well of inspiration.

“I find that there are three levels of clarity. When I only think about something, my thoughts are embryonic and muddled. When I speak about it, my thoughts become clearer, though not always. When I write about it, I jump to a new level of clarity” (Ed Welch).

An Escape to Wisdom

I don’t always explore truth in my writing directly. Sometimes I must plunge deeply into the lie to make sense of the truth and to come to terms with how the world is, often irrational and prejudice. Yet, truth or lie, writing (hand in hand with prayer) is my best way out of the maze, my best escape to wisdom.

Writing is so valuable to me because the world is deeper than reason. A magic beyond logic must come to my rescue. How often, in the throws of a story, has truth come to me in clear tones, in vivid and precise word pictures, and everything finally makes sense. Thus I’ve come to understand myself and life.

“Writing became the lever of my thinking and the outlet of my feelings. If I didn’t pull the lever, the wheel of thinking did not turn. It jerked and squeaked and halted. But once a pen was in hand, or a keyboard, the fog began to clear and the wheel of thought began to spin with clarity and insight” (John Piper).

I Want to Know Its Secrets

So I write because it nets the flitting bird of inspiration, draws it close, and lets me tell its secrets. It twitters truth to me from beyond my consciousness. It’s like playing the piano, or talking to God, on candid camera. I discover things that normally pass me by in the exhilaration of the moment. I don’t know these secrets until I write them. So I continue to write because I want to know.

Why do you write?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nathan D. Maki
    March 18, 2014
    3:13 pm #comment-1

    Wow, and I thought I was good with words! 🙂 You’ve somehow managed to capture and put into words some facet of the mysterious essence of writing. I’ve been on a little hiatus after finishing my third book in the War Within series, but this post alone makes me want to get back to the keyboard and let the words flow again! Thanks!

    • Brent King
      March 18, 2014
      3:23 pm #comment-2

      We’ll be together at the keyboard in spirit. Hope you enjoyed your hiatus. Breaks are good. They fill the well. =)

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