Better on Paper

by Samantha Hoffman

Why do we write?

Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means."

Stephen King said that in the end all writing is about “enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” 

Gloria Steinem said, “Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”

Me? I write because it's always been in my DNA, whether journaling or business writing or short stories or creative nonfiction or novels, writing has always been cathartic for me. I can hardly remember a time when I didn't write.

My sister, who's two years older, taught me to read when she learned in first grade. I was enthralled with the words and the stories and the worlds that were created, and I wanted so much to do that. In 3rd grade we had an assignment to write a short story. My teacher Mrs. Allen read my story aloud to the class. In my memory, mine was the only one she read aloud. That's probably not true, it's just how I want to remember it, that I was the special, talented one. I've been writing ever since.

I write to tell stories, to connect with and support people, to express my opinion, to make people think, to work things out, to discover. So many reasons. One of the big ones is because I'm so much better on paper than I am in person. On paper I am witty and quick and clever and I always know exactly what to say. On paper I'm confident and perceptive, I never say the wrong thing or insult anyone, I have the proper response at the right time. 

In real life I suffer from elevator wit. If you don't know what that is, it's thinking of the perfect response too late, which happens a lot in my life; I think of the perfect response after the conversation has moved on or the person has walked away or the doors close on the elevator. It's maddening.

On paper I am perfect.

We all have our reasons to write. The thing we have in common is that we do it. Let's keep moving forward.

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