What Is The Real Reason Why You Write?

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For years, I often struggled telling people why, exactly, I wrote.

Because it seemed as if I had no real good reason, no strong, declarative purpose, for putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, voice to notes, and all that jazz.

I was, you could say, directionless.

And there were years I wrote a little and years I wrote a lot — depending on the money, of course. Back then, that’s all I think I was in it for. The money. There wasn’t a ton but there certainly was some; it was easy work too, so it was, well… easy money.

But then the money went away and the people went away too, because that’s who I wrote about — people, mostly entertainers — and still, I was left every day with a blank page. A blank page that kept calling me back, asking for my thoughts on this subject or that.

And I began filling up those pages, then after they were filled, putting them out into the world. Some were read, some were not, but through it all, the words kept coming.

During this time — really, not all that long ago — I attained some renown, a kind of renown that previously had eluded me. And there was no money, or if there was, perhaps only a little of it; but then, too, there was occasionally a lot of it.

And I felt freed then, freer than I had ever been before.

Because it was then that I realized it wasn’t about the money and it wasn’t about the people. It wasn’t even about the renown, although I admit that it certainly helped, and when there are low moments, and there is no money, and there are no people, the renown can certainly get you through it.

No, what i realized was that when everything and everyone was gone, and I was alone, all that I had, even when I had nothing, were the thoughts in my head and the pen and the pad. And through that, whether I was shackled in a cell, shackled in the prison of my own mind, or even worse, shackled by the constraints modern society often throws around us, through writing, I could be free.

I write so I can be free.

What about you — why do you write?

Get in touch paulcantor@gmail.com

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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