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Apr
11
2016

Why I write -- by Maya Mendoza

People often ask me why I’m so determined to write everything down.  What is it about writing that keeps me glued to my desk for hours and days at a time? I had to stop and think. Is it because I enjoy expressing myself with words?  Is it because I have an instinctive talent for writing?  Or is there a deeper reason?   My answer is--I write because I must.

Writing eases my suffering . . . writing is my way of reaffirming my own existence.    Gao Xingjian

This quote by Chinese émigré’ and Nobel Prize winner in literature says it all for me.

 

Raised by a bi-polar mother, and a mostly absent father, I never believed I had a talent for anything. Children always believe what they are told no matter how false. My mother called me ugly names, and said I was too ugly to find a husband.

― She didn’t notice that she used black magic and put a spell on her daughter. She didn’t know the power of her word, and therefore she isn’t to blame.”

― Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

 

 

I started keeping a diary when I was ten. I still remember that shiny, red book with the perfect key. I believed that key would keep my inner-life hidden, but my mother found my diary and read my mind when I was a teenager. She accused me of all sorts of mayhem because of the secrets I had written. I was too embarrassed to tell her that my love of words and adolescent longing for a boyfriend, conspired against me. I was not sleeping around. In fact, I was a virgin.  That incident taught me that words are powerful. I needed a little of that power.

"A word after a word after a word is power."

 -Margaret Atwood

 I was told other things by friends and teachers, but what I heard was. I was a good singer, but not good enough to compete in the real world. I could act, but I wasn’t pretty enough. I could dance but the choreographer at my drama club, sneered that “Puerto Rican girls with their big butts should cut out the rice and beans.” This was before Jennifer Lopez brought “booty back.” In English class, I won third place in a writing contest. When the teacher read our stories to the class and “Surprise party,” my offering, received the loudest applause, I knew I was finally good at something.

 

I got married at sixteen to save myself from abuse, but leaving didn’t save me. Writing saved me. I escaped my mother but not the abuse. Abusers have a knack of finding their victims. One night I was attacked by a stranger while out with friends. Life became like a horror movie, complete with monsters at night, and panic attacks and severe headaches, and dizziness, during the day.

I carried books like friends everywhere I went, and reading and eating soothed me for a while. I gained seventy pounds of pain. At first, the extra weight protected me from the world, but not from my growing anxiety. Then, I stopped going out at all. Bad things might happen if I left the house. I might get dizzy and land in the emergency room again.  I was too full of fear and confusion to face the world. I ended up literally hiding in the darkness of my bedroom closet.  But through all the torment, I wrote. I wrote to forget my fear, I wrote to understand and most of all, I wrote to heal.

"When we deny our stories, they define us.  When we own our stories, we get to write the ending." Brene’ Brown

One day. I discovered a diary written by a woman who hated to write, but was forced to do so in the mental hospital she died in.

That woman was my mother. Through her words, my confusion and fear subsided. I learned about her life, and I learned that her suffering was caused by a mental illness with a stigma that prevented anyone from naming it. It wasn’t her fault. I learned understanding and forgiveness.

Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use.”

― Carlos Castaneda

 I knew I had to write both of our stories. I never expected to write a book, but sometimes a path of forgiveness and clarity can lead to unexpected joy.

For me, writing is like living twice while experiencing life in the present moment. It can be torture, but like a hot sauna is said to detoxify the body, all types of writing heal and detoxifies the mind. This is my path. It has a heart, sometimes a broken heart, but an authentic one.

Why do you write?

                                    Marilyn M Mendoza is the author of a published memoir-- "From Agoraphobia to zen: Uncovering the core of my anxiety and reclaiming my life,"  and the blog     https://fromagoraphobiatozen.wordpress.com/

Posted by Maya Mendoza 11 Apr 2016 at 03:49
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Responses to this blog

Imjustdru 11 Apr 2016 at 09:22  
This is the deepest blog I ever read on here. For awhile now, I've been thinking about why I write for comics and graphic novels, poetry & song lyrics and I haven't figured it out yet.


Spartucus 11 Apr 2016 at 13:34  
Truly aspiring and powerful! Thanks Maya for sharing your gift.
Harpalycus 12 Apr 2016 at 07:09  
I think there is a common and natural need to express ourselves, to reveal something of the person that lies behind the everyday persona. Some do it through music, some through dance or painting, and many through the power of words. It is a need, and not a pastime, or a mundane practicality. It is a need that can only be assuaged by the doing. I think Maya has caught this. Those who do not feel the torture and the triumph of moulding such an unforgiving medium to our own ends are not writers. They are hacks.
What really worries me is which one am I???
Pmartissm 13 Apr 2016 at 19:15  
My wife has Dementia and Parkinson's. Watching her deteriorate physically and mentally over the last 2 years, after two joint implant surgeries, cannot be described. Unlike you, Maya, I lost weight, almost 20 pounds and weakened myself when I should have been strengthening myself for my wife's sake.

Her geriatrician advised me to take up a past-time to help me cope with the stress as I'm her primary caregiver. That's how and why I started writing fiction. Escaping into my own fictional worlds and meeting my own characters and seeing their problems, troubles, struggles and heartache gives me insight in how to cope with my own.

I have now regained some weight, strength, energy an focus thanks to having my own haven to escape to for a couple of hours a day.

The human will is stronger than we think and I believe, Maya, you have the will to overcome the odds and provide an inspiration to the rest of us who struggle to cope and manage to find refuge in writing and living in our many fictional lives.

Thank you Maya, from everyone who has their own internal demons to overcome.




Everyone needs somewhere to go to escape the stresses of life
Mayaone 14 Apr 2016 at 01:33  
Hi P,
Thank you for your kind response and for sharing your pain. It does help to write it all down. Take care and Blessings to both of you. Aloha
Fcsc 14 Apr 2016 at 22:59  
Aloha,

I can see with words like:I carried books like friends everywhere I went, and reading and eating soothed me for a while. I gained seventy pounds of pain. At first, the extra weight protected me from the world, but not from my growing anxiety. that your writing comes from deep within, and the very nicely woven piece is, like a cloth of many stands which links wefts to warps, humiliations to successes and suffering to release, good to read.
Richard
.

Thanks,
Richard
Mbrooke 3 May 2016 at 05:37  
Your lovely post made me think of something I read the other day. I was looking for a craft book and having trouble finding a book that resonated with me. They all seemed to focus on minutia and formulas. I knew I'd found the right one when I came across this in the foreword: "And don't forget the real reason you write. Behind the language, beyond the techniques, is the greatest gift you have to offer: yourself." (Stephen Wilbers)

I think this is true and one of the reasons your writing stands out and is something that I remember and think about well after reading it. You are written in every word. That's one reason I like memoirs so much. I mostly read so that I can enter the mind of another person and learn their thoughts, emotions, and view on life. I am a theme-driven reader rather than a plot-driven one.

As far as myself, I am rediscovering parts of myself through writing fiction again. It has been a long time since I wrote anything creative. I find it uses a different part of myself than all the other types of writing, and in that sense it is much more therapeutic. So I would say I write because I need an outlet that has nothing to do with my job or my home life.
Miss_allen 14 Jan at 23:26  
Thanks for sharing. Moving.

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