Proof of Life

Categories Life, Self, Words

I am not often asked why I write.

Unless you count the times I ask myself, “Why in the world am I doing this?” That happens frequently. The question is generally rhetorical, but I do know the answers…

I suppose my first answer is that I write because (as many of us who do this will say) it’s cheaper than therapy. The blank page is a place to let out what we hold inside, to work out what do not understand, to help us make decisions. The blank page is a willing listener who does not judge and, by its silence, lets us find our own way.

I write because I want to think and to feel. Maybe my words will help someone else think or feel something, too. Something about themselves or about the world. Something about how people live and love and treat one another and all the ways they do not, but should. Something about joy and pain, success and failure, death and life. Maybe something about a boy or a girl or a dog or a flower. Maybe something much greater – or simpler – than any of these.

I write because I want to remember; and sometimes I write to forget.

Sometimes I write what I know I need to read.

Mostly, I write because words are the way I understand the world. Some people understand the world through pictures, or music, or sound. For me, it is words that help me make sense of the noise and the chaos.

I write because I am a writer. Writers write. But I am unlikely to tell you I write because I have to or I write because I don’t seem to be able not to write. Those statements aren’t entirely true. Some days I do not write. Maybe on those days I do not write because I have other things that need my attention. Maybe my words are not ready. Or maybe I just don’t feel I have anything to say.

But that’s not entirely true, either. Because even on the days I do not sit at my keyboard or put physical pen to paper, still, I write. In my head, in the background of whatever else is going on, words swirl and collide and drift apart again until they become something. Some of those words and ideas make it to a readable format; some do not. Some will be read by other eyes than mine; many will never see the light of day. But they are always there, always becoming – perhaps a story, a poem, or simply a solitary word or phrase to be of use at some other time.

Maybe the truth is that life is a story. And every moment of it that we live and breathe and do whatever it is that we do, we write that story. We write it for all the reasons here and so many, many more. We write to leave something for those who come behind so that they might know about us and how we lived and loved, how we thought and felt about all the things there are to think and feel about in the world. We write as proof of life, in all its many inceptions.

I write to prove that I have lived.


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post, hosted by Kristi Campbell of Finding Ninee and Kenya Johnson of Sporadically Yours. This week’s sentence is “Why I write…”

FINISH THE SENTENCE FRIDAY is a link-up that enables writers and bloggers to share their ideas based on a particular sentence. To stay ahead of future sentences and participate, join our FACEBOOK GROUP! 



Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

30 thoughts on “Proof of Life

  1. Maybe the truth is that life is a story
    Thats it! (in the, ‘god, the mind is such a insane/wonderful thing dept, upon reading the above sentence from your post, I totally flashed on a scene in an episode of the old Star Trek… can’t remember the act, but he was a way tall dude and a cyborg. I think the plot had to do with eternal life via mechanical replacement. In any event, the tall cyborg was like trying to remember something important (to the plot) and finally at the climax of the show he shouted ‘That’s it!’ in a tone at once triumphant and certain…. (as opposed to shouting in relief at remembering or in sadness at having forgotten), this guy was all about, ‘alright now I retake my proper place’)
    yeah, thats my comment on your FTSF post. lol

  2. I love that last sentence! I write in my head all the time and sometimes when I’m in bed I will myself to get up and write that down but I have rarely done that because I don’t want to “wake myself up for real”. Yep a website renewing is way cheaper that therapy. Probably cheaper than one session. Glad you had a chance to write and share your perspective.

  3. Eloquent and truth-full. <3
    I think of all the times I wrote for data and policy purposes. I enjoyed that process for the most part. But now that I write what i want, what comes bubbling up when I just put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I realize that I right because of how it makes me feel. That it (helps) make me feel.

    1. Yes, exactly, Liz! I suppose I also should’ve included that I write because I like to get paid and I enjoy those writing jobs. But the bulk of it? Yeah, it’s different.

  4. Lisa, nice meeting you. I loved the write up about why you write and found myself nodding my head in agreement while reading it. I too write in my head all the time and most of the words remain hidden form the readers eyes but they are there for me to see and understand.I will be back to read more of your creative writing, thanks to Corinne for sharing your post.

  5. I love this, Lisa and relate to so much of it. The constant writing in our heads, the using words to work something out. YES. Proof of Life is a perfect title too – it really is proof of life. Of feelings, of loving, and thinking and having something to say (or not, because there are those times, too). I’m so glad you got into the linkup before it closed.
    “Maybe the truth is that life is a story. And every moment of it that we live and breathe and do whatever it is that we do, we write that story.” THAT. xoxo

    1. Yeah, you get me. <3 And I definitely made it in at the last possible minute. LOL. I'm glad. I need to be in this space more often than I have been lately.

  6. Ooh, I love this, Lisa. I write in my head all the time – that’s why I have a waterproof pad of paper in my shower to capture those ideas! I really like the way you look at writing – I think that’s how I look at it too.

    1. Hey, great minds think alike, right? I have a waterproof notepad on my Christmas wish list. I do some of my best work there and I NEVER remember it by the time I get out. 😀

  7. A form of therapy… Yes! Absolutely! I also have posts swirling around in my head when I am not actually writing at the moment. (Also thank you for your comment on my post – I don’t know why but google lets me respond to some comments and not others)

    1. I always have them in my head. The trick for me is to get them onto the page before I lose them!
      Google is a fickle thing. I often have trouble leaving comments on blogs that require Google accounts. Ugh.
      Thanks for reading!

  8. I think that what you feel is common for many of us who write. Proof of life, or the thought that there may be none once I pass, is a reason I write, too. Even if it’s only so that my kids, and their kids someday, know what I thought, what I loved, what made me happy, and what I was about, it is worth it to put pen to paper and share it. Lovely to read, thank you!

    1. Thanks, Julia. It is a glorious thing when I am able to read something my grandparents penned once upon a time – certainly not in the formats we use today, but cards, letters, etc. I love seeing the words on the page, knowing what was in their minds and hearts. I hope that perhaps one day my own child or grandchildren might think the same.

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