In celebration of the National Day on Writing (October 20), we’re asking you why you write. So it only seemed fair that we, the Figment team, told you a little bit about why we write. Today we hear from Figment’s Director of Educational Programming, Katie Robbins, whose writing on food and lifestyle has appeared in publications like Saveur, O Magazine, Bust, and Psychology Today.
When I was about six or seven I had a huge fight with my dad. I can’t remember the exact topic—something about my tortured lack of a certain Care Bear—but I do recall slammed doors, raised voices, and the sound of my small white Keds stomping down our long central hallway. Later as I sat on my bed, staring at some lesser Care Bear through swollen post-tantrum eyes, I noticed a piece of canary yellow paper, folded crisply into a long rectangle, slip underneath my door. It was the kind of paper my dad, a biographer, used to write his manuscripts, rolling each piece carefully through the manual typewriter that, as an unabashed luddite, he insisted on using. I loved that sunny yellow paper; it was more special and precious than the plain white or newsprint I had at my disposal for art projects, and I’d sneak the golden sheets whenever I could.
But now, here was a piece, sneaking its way to me.
I scurried off of my bed, picked it up, and opened it. Inside was a letter from my dad, typed with that same old manual typewriter. It was an apology for shouting and an explanation for the Care Bear embargo, the details of which some 25 years later are foggy. But I’ll never forget the first line of the letter. “Dear Katie,” he wrote. “Sometimes when communicating by talking becomes too difficult, I find that it’s easier to write things down.”
It made perfect sense to me. Here was a way to communicate your ideas and feelings, but with the luxury of a little time to percolate and really perfect (or at least improve) those thoughts. And so I promptly scribbled down a similar note of apology to my dad and snuck it under the door to his study. Pretty soon, he appeared at my bedroom door in person with a hug and invitation to make egg creams in the kitchen. All was forgiven, and we had done it by writing.
Figment is celebrating the National Day on Writing with the New York Times Learning Network, the National Writing Project, and Edutopia. Be sure to tell us why you write on our festival page, read author Q-and-A’s from the New York Times Learning Network and check out more great essays about why writers write at NWP.