The greatest power I know (and I’ve been fortunate to know several) is speaking the truth. I come from a family of secrets. Even the emotions are hidden away. This is the reason I write nonfiction and talk openly about autism, adoption, addiction, mental illness, grief, and loss.

I write because secrets and silence can kill you. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but slowly and when you least expect it.

I write so I can choose a different fate.

I write to make sense of the past, to reexamine (sometimes again and again) events that haunt me. I search for the threads that weave through life, linking seemingly random events. I don’t shy away from the messy, authentic facts. I write to understand myself and ponder questions I may never answer.

I write to speak for things that cannot speak. I don’t mind being the lone voice crying in the wilderness. In fact, I relish it.

I write because when I don’t, my life doesn’t go right. The act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) helps me process my day-to-day existence. It’s walking meditation for my hands.

I write because it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done, and yet, the only work I would do gratefully, without pay, for the rest of my days.

I write because it’s bred in the bone. I’ve never been able to escape it, although God knows I’ve tried. Now I wonder why, even though deep down I know the answer. My mother told me writing wasn’t practical, and for years I believed her. But I ask you this: how is it practical to deny what feeds the soul?

I write because it’s freedom—and freeing.

I write because it’s rebellion.

I write because I must.

BIO: Cynthia J. Patton has worked as an environmental attorney, scientific editor, consultant, writer, and grassroots advocate—and still doesn’t know what to be when she grows up. In addition to creative nonfiction, she has published essays, poetry, and a surprisingly popular wetlands protection handbook. Her award-winning work has appeared in nine anthologies, including the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, as well as numerous print and online publications. The Northern California native has one daughter (plus a thoroughly rowdy dog and cat) and is completing a memoir on her unexpected and unconventional journey to motherhood. Learn more at