Why I Write Vol. 10: What Else Remains

In this series, "Why I Write," members of the Grub community share what compels them to put words onto paper day after day. In this edition, Lydia Erickson talks about changing the world with words.


Here and there, a set of footprints. Happisburgh, Acahualinca, Langebaan, Ileret, and Laetoli. When they are gone, what else remains?

I write because I am frightened, though writing frightens me too, sometimes. I’m frightened to die without being known, without knowing. I write because I am brave: brave enough to live, though living is harder, and at times worse than dying, which is after all only falling asleep in a large room, with good company.

Millennia pass, and we craft a one-sided knife, then the two-sided blade. How many more years did it take, to invent the flute? Or is music only another kind of fire, and language the predecessor of the wheel? Words will get you places.

I write out of gratitude, for the amber moon and the slowly opening jasmine, for warm sweet things baking in the cool dark night. I write for strawberries pressed into layers of clotted cream, a dessert shared with my mother in the blinding brilliance of the day.

I write because even the sounds we make are arbitrary, and because the universe is stretching forever outward toward cold dispassionate darkness.

Ultimate reality is unsalvageable; I can only change your world, one word at a time, with no guarantee that it will be for the better. Like Babel, my creation is untenably ambitious, and while I build bridges rather than towers with my words, the walls between our synaptic cities remain impenetrable.

I write because my mother will not always be here, and what will I have done while she shares the world with me? How will she know me?

I write because one day I will die, and I too would leave footprints.


Lydia Erickson hails from the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has been actively involved in organizations such as Litquake, San Francisco's literary festival, and Locus, a trade magazine for speculative fiction. She has worked as an editor for Boston University's Coup D'Etat, and published poetry in on-campus publications such as The Core Curriculum and Burn Magazine, as well as off-campus organizations such as The American Humanist Society. Hobbies include reading and writing speculative fiction and poetry, traveling, dancing, singing, and sometimes even scaring away neighborhood animals with her guitar.

About the Author

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