You ask me why I spend my life writing?
Do I find entertainment?
Is it worthwhile?
Above all, does it pay?
If not, then, is there a reason? …
I write only because there is a voice within me that will not be still.
— Sylvia Plath
For ten years during my late twenties and early thirties I kept a journal. I started writing modestly in college and it eventually grew into such a compulsion that I would often write for hours a day. The pen seemed to have a mind of its own. Sometimes I would start a sentence not knowing where it was going, only to be amazed at the journey that it would launch. Even as computers started to enter my life, I wrote everything longhand. There was something magic about the connection between my thoughts and the paper, linked through the pen clasped in my fingertips.
Occasionally I would ponder the sense of it all. Why was I writing so incessantly? I could not see where this was going and yet I could not help myself. Was I a budding novelist in search of a plot line? Sylvia gave me permission to not worry about the answer to why.
I journal only infrequently now. In retrospect, I believe that the writing process was a catharsis. Some young people explore the world through Eurail passes and youth hostels in order to find themselves. I chose the refuge of books and the pen to clear my mind and find my way. The experience of journalling is still cathartic but the voice that drove me to write earlier in my life is quieter now. She is more at peace with herself and I have a clearer sense of what I want to do with my life.