Why She Writes



Guest Post: Why She Writes by Joanne Fedler

A woman sits down at a desk.

Perhaps the humble simplicity of a chair will suffice, a bench, a place against which she can press her lower back to take the responsibility from her legs, her tired feet.

From a bag, a drawer, a box specially kept aside, or from the folds of her garments, she removes a journal, or unfolds some paper, just to find a rectangle of clean space in which nothing has been marked.

This is the invitation that calls from her dreams, her chores, her sadnesses. From her bag, her drawer, her box or her pocket she removes a pen, maybe a little pencil, and inhaling deeply, she moves her hand to the page.

She watches as the words appear.

Sometimes her own words chill her as if they were a stranger’s as they collide her with what is inescapably the truth about her life. Here she becomes brave, defiant of the lawyer’s ‘never put anything in writing,’ because black and white expose the writer, invite vulnerability.

In here, she is not afraid of that nakedness.

Here she seeks the clarity, the brutality that comes from scripture.

When a woman sits down in this way, she is not looking for seduction and the veils it wears.

She is weary of false promises and platitudes.

She seeks simply to know how it is. How it really is. And so if she seems to be listening, squinting, it may be that she is straining to hear that wisp of a voice bombarded and overwhelmed in the din of her duties, which knows what she wants and who she is.

Here she learns kindness for that voice will not be bullied nor commanded to attendance.

She can simply invite it by the ritual of her undertaking to write.

She may sit waiting, pen hovering at the page’s surface, like a lover poised to kiss lips she aches for. Or she may write into the hours, never hearing the voice she knows is there.

Yet she writes nonetheless because writing is the most powerful act of hoping she knows. And when that voice slips in between her fingers and out onto the page, she half looks away, afraid to gush and frighten it back, overwhelm it with gratitude, so she just keeps her hand moving, pretending to be a nonchalant observer, afraid to ask of it too much, happy with a sentence, paragraph, page, as long as it is willing.

She watches her hand move across the page and knows that while she writes, she is a writer.

In these moments, her hidden heart has not been forgotten, despite the days she lives outside of her writing.

She writes for the reassurance that she is more than the things she does, the face she has, the chores she undertakes.

She writes so she can return to the ordinariness of her life, so that it may go on.


Joanne Fedler

Why she writesJoanne has written 9 books, including the international bestsellers Secret Mothers’ Business and When Hungry, Eat. Her new book Love in the Time of Contempt: consolations for parents of teenagers was released in mid 2015. Her real joy comes from mentoring other writers, taking small groups on writing retreats to Bali, Fiji and Tuscany. For a free gift (21 tips on finding your writing voice), please go to her website. She also shares writing tips on her YouTube channel.



  • Reply September 16, 2015


    This is beautiful. Thank you.

    • Reply September 16, 2015

      Cate Hogan

      Thank you Caitlin; Joanne is a wonderful writer.

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