“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” –E.L. Doctorow

by RYAN BOLTON

I have a tattoo on my right arm. It’s of a thorn acacia tree—native to Africa. The tree’s branches, sprawling out, read: “Write for change.” It’s my daily memento. As I shower in the morning, I am reminded of why I pick up a pen, or more suitably, tap keyboard keys like a monkey picking lice. I write because I believe in the medium. Its unrivaled ability to connect a writer one-on-one with a reader. Many readers. It’s a wickedly powerful tool that has taken down the world’s most powerful seat (see: Richard Nixon.) As a journalist, the ability to enter the homes of thousands and figuratively sit on their kitchen table is profound. The writer has the ability—with honest, truthful writing—to make a reader question and think. “Indeed, I never considered Canada’s position in the War in Afghanistan as politically aligned with the U.S. for both political and economical reasonings,” one might muse, for instance, after reading a column.

Writing, as we all know, has been around for centuries. Reading, writing’s trusty companion, also became pervasive with Gutenberg’s printing press in the 13th century. Since then, writing, which also means enlightenment, critical thinking and literature, has spread like McDonald’s restaurants across this fair land. Although the King’s English is being threatened by today’s tweens hell-bent on using “chatspeak” to pseudo-communicate, I believe pray written communication will continue to hold grammar and syntax in regard. Writing, to me at least, is an experience. An experience that I share with my reader. It’s more of a two-pronged exercise, really. Time is put in on both ends, and both (ideally) take something away. I could easily make a double entendre here, but I will refrain.

If I can have one reader, just one, question basic ideology, religion, culture or society in an article, I’m happy. Because then, as a writer, I know that I have done my job.

Back to my whole passion for writing thing. Like most job titles, it is easy, of course, to simply say I’m a writer. I could just as easily note I’m an acclaimed alligator wrestler. The point is, writing is difficult. It’s torturing at times, in fact. Almost a constant struggle—but typically a beautiful struggle with a smiling love child popping out as a finale. After studying the literary canon in university, I came to realize an irrevocable admiration for all distinguished authors. Well, any published author really. The trade is not only batshit hard to break into, but to return to a blank page night after night is daunting. It’s a constant challenge to create something. This is why writing keeps me going. That constant struggle is a challenge. I enjoy creating something that I need to really apply myself to complete. To fight with words is certainly cerebral with your writer’s block and all, but that’s just part of the equation. You also have the stress, editors, constant doubt and expectations to boot. All the more to stick into the writer’s overflowing pipe and puff away.

As a literary neophyte, I have been most fortunate. Having published articles in a collection of national publications, newspapers, magazines and websites, I have to attribute my relative (and it certainly is relative) success to passion. I wouldn’t constantly be writing and actively seeking out freelance opportunities if I really had my sights set on a life of plumbing. It’s moving to see someone reading your material or to have someone comment on a piece you poured endless hours into. It’s like a nasty heroine addiction; after seeing your byline once in print, you are constantly in search of the next fix.

I always write with this little axiom running amok in my head: “If I can have one reader, just one, question basic ideology, religion, culture or society in an article, I’m happy. Because then, as a writer, I know that I have done my job.”

That’s why I write.

Written by Ryan Bolton

Ryan is a Toronto-based writer and photographer that likes to break the rules. His work has taken him around the world to do what he truly loves—storytelling. And drinking cold beer.