Tuesday, September 24, 2013

I write because ...

I write because I enjoy it — I love putting the pen to paper and forming letters, words, sentences and, finally, paragraphs. Seeing thoughts physically appear on the paper is enlivening! And I find the physical act of writing a joy to engage in, especially when the pen I am using is a favorite fountain pen
And I have a gift: the ability to articulate realities of the world and clarify meaning(s). Frequently, in conversation, I am able to reword other people’s thoughts, reducing them to their essence and producing insight. My wording captures, perfectly, what they mean, and frequently adds a subtle distinction that is important, but missing in the original. "That is exactly the meaning I'm looking for but I would not have thought of that word," or "yes, that a very good way to put it;" or, simply, "Excellent!"

I have learned, however, that sometimes discretion is the better part of valor. I conceive but do not offer my rendition — because my rendition reduces their words to their essence and illumines their thought as shallow, banal, selfish or just plain bullshit. This has not been received well. At these times my gift feels more like burden than gift. And my situation seems like God's prophets about to speak to his chosen people … the prophets were stoned, you might recall.

And how does this gift relate to writing? Before actually trying it, writing seemed like "simply" a different medium for exercising the same gift. Now, however, writing does not seem at all like involvement in a conversation; it seems more like public speaking without the speaking.
In conversation, the 'other' supplies the raw material and I the essence and insight hidden in the words. Writing is much harder. It is noticing the significant, writing about it so we both know about what I write, and seamlessly supplying the essence and insight. And this, if the writing is going to interest anyone, has to be new ... new insight, new data, new facts, or a new view of established truth. And it has to be fair.

It is difficult. It is the work of a lifetime; it is my work, and I am starting late.

For a homework assignment, I wrote ( and shared with my classmates ) autobiographies of 6 words, 50 words, and 200 words. The spiritual movement in those stories moved several classmates. That taught me that my story, properly written, can touch people in a meaningful way. Learning this delighted me.

So ... out of all the worldly stories there are to write about, I need to select from only those in which I was involved. That reduces the choices from an infinite number to a number that is only completely overwhelming. Yes, writing remains difficult.

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