Peggy Bechko: Writers And Readers Understanding Who We Are

Even Aldous Huxley had the "Who are We?" obsession going on
Even Aldous Huxley had the “Who are We?” obsession going on

by Peggy Bechko

“We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little.”
Anne Lamott, author

Interesting thought, don’t you think? Nice to know sheep lice don’t write much. I don’t think they’d find a market anyway.

On the other hand that first bit, the statement that we are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are, that’s food for thought.

I admit, every once in a while when I’m writing I get to contemplating why I do write. I enjoy it for sure. I like creating other worlds and stories about them. But at the core there seems there is more. I’ve been writing since I was barely 12, and I mean seriously so with the goal of publication. So why? What was it that spurred me to do that at an early age?

Throughout history, since man has been able to think and process information, stories have been exchanged, first verbally, passed from one to another, passed down through the years, then via the written word (whether actual words or illustrations). (And now you know the origin of the graphic novel and comic books and movies). Well, maybe. Seems logical to me.

If you’re a writer, or a reader for that matter, think about it. Her statement that we want to understand who we are. I have to agree. I grant you we can’t read other animals’ minds and they can’t talk to us directly, so we can’t be absolutely, 100% positive, but it appears we’re the only animals (or insect?) on the planet who are self-contemplating. Who give thought and story to who we are and where we’ve been and where we are going.

Again, one has to wonder why that is.

Writers write to explore new worlds. Readers read pretty much for the same reason. Together we’re creating those worlds, wandering through them and in that journey questing to understand a bit more of who we are, why we’re here and what the heck we’re supposed to be doing. The confusion can expand to large proportions.

That exploration, in fact, IS part of who we are. Our explorations and storytelling will no doubt give us even more answers as time goes on. They’ll probably raise a whole lot of other questions as well.

So who is this Anne Lamott who gave us this quote? You can read a bit more about her by clicking on her name. She does a lot of biography, some novels and some non-fiction. She’s also the author of many books, one in particular that’s a great read for writers. Bird By Bird. She’s on twitter too if you want to follow her – @AnneLamott

Explore yourself – go write – or at least go read.