A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To Petrarch

Dear Sir:

I, like you, am a writer. You wrote hundreds of letters, both to contemporaries and to those in the past; you sought out and copied ancient records for the benefit of those who would come after you.

I have felt recently that I have generated a great deal of writing; I write a personal record, which I have kept since I was ten years of age; I write letters to my brother in his military endeavors and to my best friend who is on a religious mission, and soon I will be writing to my sister as she departs on a mission of her own. I write down lists, thoughts, impressions, quotes, things to do--everything. I wonder if you, like I, ever got the malady known as writer's cramp because of time spent holding a pen, or ever looked down to find ink-smeared hands. I imagine you did.

So why write? What drives me to scribble down words concerning nearly every aspect of my life?

I want to remember.

Because frankly, my friend, as I'm sure you have discovered, what is not written down, we forget.

Great ideas, even entire cultures have been lost to us, because we have no written record of them. To leave a record grants a kind of immortality; our ideas and thoughts can be read and shared by those who come long after we are gone, and we can read the writings of those who have come before us. To remember them and remember what we have experienced ourselves in the past makes us better able to shape our futures and realize our potential because we remember the knowledge we have gained and build upon it. Surely you, credited as the father of Renaissance humanism, can see that.

That, sir, is why I write to you now, and why I will continue to write.

Written from the great library of BYU in Utah, in the month of September, the year of our Lord the 2010th.


  1. Remembering events is one reason to write, but there are many others. Write to instruct, to explore, or to argue. I am a writer as well, but I write because the words that I pen (or type) define me in someway. Either the words themselves or how I write them. It's been said "you can learn more about a writer from reading what they write than reading their biography." Just a thought.

  2. I've always thought it will be great to have our writings immortalized, but how will our writings ever make it out of all the mess of things already written? Do we have to become famous for our writings to be looked at once we're gone? Just something I've always wondered.

  3. Kristie, you bring up a good point. There are so many reasons to write, like the ones you mentioned above. But what I was getting at is that the remembering is one of writing's basic purposes. We write things down because we want to have them to look at and refer to and read in the future. We write down our reflections, our explorations, our thoughts, because we want to remember them and so others can read and remember them too.
    Brandon, as far as the immortality of our writing, it is sometimes difficult to know if our personal writings will make it into the future. With my journal, I know it is of great use to me, and I hope it will be of interest to my posterity; I believe personal histories are one of the most likely things to survive because of the personal connection and wealth of historical information they provide. For our writing to survive, we need not be famous; we just need to be known by someone who will care about what we have to say.