Monday, September 26, 2011

an interesting topic approached me last night

It was certainly no stranger. Perhaps that is how it so easily was allowed in. A familiar, old friend. It had visited me before, at least one hundred times; another reason why-at the moment-I was unaffected by its appearance. Unaffected until it looked me directly in the eyes and spoke.

Words I had heard before. of course I had. As I mentioned, I had entertained this old friend before. This time, however, they weren't typed out, weren't written or read. They were spoken, eye to eye, my reflection to face:

"A Writer's Life for Me"

Like lightening I understood.To be a writer-at the very essence of the vocation-was to write. Not just poems or novels, short stories or plays. Not outlines, query letters, synopses or resumes. No. To write is to breathe. To put life to paper, tablet, screen. To enjoy the formation of a letter simply because it is.

Because I am.

Life has become under appreciated. Like classical arts in a modern, technological world, most humans scream through it, past it, on the way to the next event. The next check mark on the almighty TO DO. But life is. It is what we are. It is a verb. A state of being. A condition of utmost beauty. For good or ill, life is all we have. To live a writer's life is to take it all in. Put it all down. Translate, to the best of our ability, the ecstatic joys, the devastating tragedies; the unexplainable, incomprehensible mysteries. TO record the illiterate moments where there are no words. To sift through the mundane so others will read it and see Heaven in a copper pot, the Divine in taking out the trash.

To live a writer's life is dangerous. it is to live split open, your guts exposed for always. No thought, no interpretation private for life belongs to everyone. We writers are charged with the interpreting. All of us speak different languages, making available life for varying groups of people. To live a writer's life is to be swept along with the avalanche, to give into the pull of tides, to forget swimming and struggling for air.

It is the ultimate lesson in letter go, in trusting in something larger than you and infinitely unexplainable. Some may argue they are in control. That form and function and grammar are law. We are governed by form, by function. We are conduits of the stream. But we are no more in control than the river bed is of the rapids. We are merely the channel. The words will tumult as they may.

One question remains: am I brave enough to let them rage? To let life sweep me out of my carefully made raft? Destroy my meticulously constructed dam?

Am I brave enough to write?


  1. This post is utterly beautiful. I love the idea that we're translating life.

  2. I believe that you are. You are gifted and beautiful and I love you. :)

  3. You raise an interesting question for all of us: Are we brave enough to write? I am not sure all the answers would be the same.
    For so many years I was a "mom/teacher/woman who writes on the side". Now I say, "I am a writer." The first time I answered "What do you do?" question with that answer, I felt worthy of the title: Writer.

  4. You are brave enough! Now go forth and write.

  5. Meredith: Thank you so much! The idea of translating life into words for others made me excited as well.

    Mary: A travelling companion is always welcome :)

    Jon: Thank you for the encouragement. It means the world to me.

    Susan: Sometimes all it takes is for us to be brave enough to say "I am a writer!" Good for you! I'm still working on "allowing" myself to tell people that's what I do, who I am.

    Golden: Thanks!

    Alex: Thank you. Going forth now!!

  6. Some days brave enough, some days not. But I was brave enough in August to say "no" to a job that would have been nice financially, but I knew in my heart would take away my writing. Turning it down was a little scary, but nowhere near as frightening as it was to think of myself being something other than a writer.


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.