For my recent birthday, a friend who knows me well presented me with a coffee mug that says: “I write ... what’s your superpower?” Those of you out there who know me, at least through my words in this space, know that I believe words make a difference. And that is, after all, the reason I do write.
Oh, of course, as any other writer will tell you, I also write because I have to, because it’s as essential to me as breathing. There’s nothing unique in this sentiment. All the writers I know feel this way to one degree or another. And to say, “I am a writer,” means nothing more than you do some of your thinking on paper (the slogan of a new journal I received for Christmas).
Writers don’t have to be “published.” We don’t need pat answers to the question, “Really? What do you write?” Just thinking on paper through the marvelous and mysterious world of words, through the various lexicons of language, satisfies something crucial in us.
Yes, I write about torture and about Facebook friends, about workplace shooters and high school reunions, about domestic violence and the perils of changing handbags. I write because I personally have to do something about the world and the way I view it.
When I despair, as I sometimes do, about refugee camps, floods and fires, and the ravages of war, I want to be of some use, to put my hands to work. I yearn to offer what little expertise I have in aid to make things right. In short, I want to be a superhero.
But I have wise friends who remind me that I already have a superpower. So when I need to put these hands to work, I grab my pen. I think on paper. I provide information, create awareness, ask for action, and even try to spark a measure of entertainment – in this column, in my essays and literary nonfiction, and even in my poetry.
What’s your superpower? What is as essential to you as breathing? Is it volunteering? Is it helping others through your work? Raising a family, gardening, teaching? Serving your community, your church, synagogue or mosque, your faith itself? Do you cook, do you sew, do you sing, do you dance?
Whatever it is, I’ll bet you never thought of this passion as a superpower. But consider this: if what you do 1) satisfies something crucial in you, it’s truly super. And if what you do 2) makes a difference in the life of just one person, it’s power … power you may not even realize you have.
Think about the times that someone has thanked you for something you don’t remember you did. About the times when a child took your hand, a loved one pulled close, or a friend, colleague or stranger paid forward some kindness of yours. You are so powerful.
For my part, I am satisfied when I write. And if what I write prompts someone else to think about something differently, to support a position or to take a stand against it, or even simply to smile, I have made the difference I set out to make.
I write ... what’s your superpower?
Andrea Doray is a writer who would love to hear from you about your own superpowers. Let her know at firstname.lastname@example.org.