Writing a Bridge

Sometimes we need to write about writing. Sometimes we need to list all the reasons we love to write, or why we hate to write or what we want to write about.


I write because I want to find out what I think, how I feel, why I believe and who I am underneath the makeup and the clothing and the skin. I write because writing is the best revenge and the best way to avoid goodbye. I write because it’s a vehicle for feelings that didn’t want to take the train. I write because it’s a more colorful version of black and white. I write because it’s the grown up version of passing notes. I write because I’m tone deaf and I can’t sing but I want to be heard. I write because I’ve found that even the littlest, weirdest, most obscure thought in my head, once written down, is somehow universal. I write because I am my own scientific laboratory, testing ground, petri dish, experiment, lab rat, not only for how I feel but for how others feel, too. I write because I am the universal I, the big and the little me, the hole in the donut and the whole donut, perfect in my imperfection, unique just like everyone else. I write to fit in and I write to stand out. I write because like Lord Byron says, if I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad. I write to feel better and to feel anything at all, good, bad, beautiful, horrible, and so on, forever.


Sometimes we have to process the process. Sometimes we can’t get to the fertile island of our story without building a bridge out of words to walk across. I think of bridge pieces as tune-ups for our vehicles, sharpening our tools, refining the paint in our palettes. Bridge pieces give us a chance to refocus and redirect when we get off course or don’t know where the hell we’re going.

Most of my writing plans, brainstorms and ideas emerge in bridge pieces. I think of this process as casting a wide net out into the sea and then sifting through what I’ve dragged to shore. This is not wasted writing: this is not wasted time. It is connective tissue, the way we get from here to there.


–Valley Haggard
excerpt from her book, The Halfway House For Writers

Valley Haggard is the recipient of a 2014 Teresa Pollak Prize and a 2015 Style Weekly Women in the Arts Award. The founder and co-director of Richmond Young Writers, she leads creative nonfiction marathons, workshops and retreats for adults.



Halfway House reading


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