Why I Write

First, I consider myself a journalist, not the fact-checking, who, what, where, and when kind of reporter – but the gut-checking – why did this, or why is this happening to me or others and what can I learn from the experience – activist-essayist and memoirist. I keep journals, write memoirs and personal narratives as a record of my journey and exploration inward, allowing me to excavate and externalize aspects of my essence and experience, bringing them out of the shadows and into the light. Journaling and writing personal narratives is the process of first becoming aware, accepting and embracing what I have uncovered, followed by the charting of a new course.

Second, I’m a poet – not the classically trained writer of sonnets and couplets, with meter and rhyme, purveyor of stanzas, refrains and quatrains – instead I fashion narrative prose describing mundane scenes of everyday life, in search for meaning and an audience, to muse and give voice to emotions and ideas, that if not heard and considered, may otherwise remain mute or be forgotten.

As a founding member of a local writing group, LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers, I’ve been witness to its evolution from an essay-reading, discussion group responding to prompts by luminaries such as Audre Lorde, to becoming an incubator and workshop for emerging and practiced writers, who break the silence, speak the unspeakable, revealing the intimate, personal and diverse identities that make up our community. We empower ourselves by forging our common bonds and celebrating our uniqueness, first putting words to page, then reading them aloud in our own voice: our stories, our words, our lives, become our power. 

The personal becomes political and the political is always personal.

From journalist to poet, memoirist to activist writer, I too have evolved as I have become a true writer, personal historian and activist-essayist. I hail from a long line of oral historians, beloved family members who knew the value of a good story and the pleasure experienced when sharing it. My paternal great-grandmother, maternal grandmother, and finally my father, each remembered almost every person they ever met and relished in the telling and retelling of their stories, embellishing, adding and subtracting details in the service of the tale or life lesson.  I now capture my stories on paper and release them to the Cloud so they can live beyond the reach of the spoken word and find a home with others.

The personal narratives, poems and monologues published here are snapshots of my story, small vignettes, and glimpses into a life. I consider myself perfectly flawed and human, one person, living a life, a lesbian-feminist activist in community with others. The stories, when woven together and shared with others, create a community of voices, diverse and resilient.

Linda Lenzke

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