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Why I write

Andy Ziccarelli | Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A few years ago, something came up in The Observer Viewpoint section pertaining to the motivation of columnists. The author stated all columnists are being selfish, and that writing our opinions to be read by thousands of people across campus was simply a way to boost our ego and make us feel important. After two years as a columnist, however, I think that I have found that nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t write because I want people to know who I am. That is probably the last thing on my mind when I sit down to write a column. If columns were to be published anonymously, I would not even blink. I have never used this space as a soap box upon which I can stand and preach to the entire campus how I feel, convincing you why I am right.

There are far too many well-informed people on this campus that don’t have the forum I do that could make far more convincing arguments, either for or against anything controversial that I would chose to write about.

My reasons for writing are twofold. My first reason is that transcribing my thoughts into a permanent medium is simply a form of self-expression. I reached a sad conclusion one day, one that many other former high school athletes reach: we can’t do it anymore. I watch enviously as other students play guitar on the quad, paint a portrait or produce a movie, because these people are doing what they love, and they will never face the moment where they will have to stop doing it because they physically can’t anymore.

For many years, playing football and baseball competitively was my outlet. I worked hours daily towards making myself a better player in each sport, and I loved every minute of it — well, almost. But once I reached college, I reached a point where I could no longer do what I love. I wasn’t big enough to play football anymore, and wasn’t talented enough to play baseball. And just like that, the mode in which I defined and expressed myself for my entire life was gone. I felt lost. That is, until I found writing.

Humans have thousands of thoughts per day (some even estimate it as high as 55,000), and each of those is an opportunity; an opportunity to discuss, or ponder, or argue, even if it is just with yourself. Writing things out as a stream of consciousness, or a message board post or a column — any of these serves as a medium in which you can express how you feel. Through these, you can convey happiness, anger or excitement.

Writing is extremely versatile, as well. A writer can be as creative or as blunt as he wants to be. He can be verbose or brief, funny or serious, symbolic or literal. And it is for this reason that I chose to express myself through a newspaper column.

My second reason for writing is that I want to make people think. I don’t necessarily want them to think like I do, or even agree with me. But what I do want is for them to take some time to reflect and look at themselves and the world around them. It is extremely easy to go through the daily routine mindlessly, and I am sure that we have all done it. I challenge that. I don’t want that to happen. There are so many opportunities throughout the day for thought and for growth.

It is funny, no column that I have ever written has turned out exactly like I had planned. I start with an idea, a basic concept that I want to write about, that I want people to think about. I usually have a message that I want to get across. But as I am writing, I am also thinking. And sometimes, those new thoughts take me off-course and into a direction that I never had even considered. By the end, the column is barely recognizable as compared to what I had intended. However, to me, that is the beauty of writing. By putting your thoughts into a medium, it forces you to analyze them, and you can end up discovering more about yourself than you ever wanted to know. And, hopefully, if I have gotten even one person to think a little deeper about their life, then I have done my job.

Andy Ziccarelli is a senior majoring in civil engineering. He can be reached at aziccare@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.