The first time I wrote this essay, trying to explain why I write, I wrote what I've heard other authors say. Essentially (but really well) I repeated the grand idea that writers write because they must—the fire for the literary art burns so brightly in us that without writing as a form of expression, we would scarcely have a reason to go on. Now, after I typed that, I realized that I'm either more shallow or more complex, because I think I have another reason.
The truth is that I write because two things have been true about me my whole life. First: I'm a little odd. A good example is that I knit all the time, even at parties and I can't seem to stop, but there is a list of many traits that define me as odd, including, but not ending, with my serious issue with the way that people seem to think you can determine a woman's intelligence by whether or she wears a bra. Controlled breasts don't make you smarter. I'm plenty smart and I don't know where my bra is. Second, I believe that if I only had the opportunity to explain myself properly, then I would be really understood, and then everyone would magically feel the way that I do and behave the way that I do. (This means I think most people would knit, or write or be braless—or at the very least, be transformed into people awestruck by knitters or writers.)
Now, I have tried to explain myself to people. Mostly I have tried this at parties. When people see me knitting, I tell them I'm a knitter. Not the sort of knitter they may have run into before, but a passionate, constant, deliberate knitter. I knit everyday, all the time, everywhere I go. It's not just that I think it's cool either, or a lovely way to make some scarves for Christmas. No. I explain at the parties that I believe knitting is a transformative and intriguing act that can change the life and brain of the person doing it, and that knitting is a a perfect metaphor for life and insight into some better ways through it.
Now, I don't know if you've tried to talk about knitting that way at parties, but if I am interpreting their departures properly, most of the planet seems to think knitting talk is inappropriate at social gatherings—and this means that I'm forever trying to explain myself and generally, making things worse instead of better.
Since I became a knitting humor writer, I seem to be understood a little better—at least for the purposes of social discourse. I'm a braless knitting humor writer, that's why I'm knitting (braless)…and my writing is a cover for the truth. That truth is that I'm different from you, and I write so you might understand me.
Stephanie Pearl Mcphee's most recent knitting book is Free-Range Knitter: The Yarn Harlot Writes Again (Andrews McMeel).