Thursday, December 16, 2010

Writing

" And what, do you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right. We must earn life once it has been awarded us. Life asks for rewards back because it has favored us with animation.
So while our art cannot, as we wish it could, save us from wars, privation, envy, greed, old age, or death, it can revitalize us amidst it all.
Second, writing is survival. Any art, any good work, of course, is that.
Not to write, for many of us, is to die...But what would happen is that the world would catch up with you and try to sicken you. If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy, or both.
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." - Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius within You

Writing has become an addiction for me. No, cancel that - not an addiction: a mechanism of survival much like eating or breathing. It has become that thing that I do in the morning - like breakfast, if I miss it my day is just not the same.

One of the interesting things that has come about as from writing here for six years (and seriously for three) is how this has changed me. Originally this was an experiment in writing that was going to drive me to authorship and fame; instead, what I have found is that it has become a journey to drive me to more deeply know myself.

I can't tell you if this writing has impacted me for the better at all - I've almost zero ability at self awareness and I'll leave that for wiser heads than I. What I can tell you is that the way I feel from performing this exercise is nothing but good. Seldom if ever have I walked away from an entry feeling that I have failed in writing at all, or that somehow my best effort was not given in that post.

To the point that when I am in a place that I cannot write, I start looking for ways to make it happen ("I'm going to Old Home; maybe I can type up on the computer and post at Starbucks. Maybe I can find a carrier pigeon to Otis and he can post it for me"). My day is no longer right if I do not write (Look - clever play on words!).

It's also been useful in the sense that it has divorced me from an incessant craving to be noticed. Originally perhaps, I was writing for someone else - that someone else who would see and be profoundly changed and notice me - and then, of course, get me a fabulous book contract. Game, set, match.

Of course I still write with an audience in mind - whom, I'm never sure. Some I know - some you've met if you've been around here long enough. Others I probably do not know and never will, this side of Heaven. Once in a while I find out an impact that I've had but mostly not - which again, is just like life: we seldom know the full impact that our actions have on the lives of others. But an author must have someone to write to; otherwise his writings simply become an incessant internal monologue.

So in the end, I find myself practically in agreement with Bradbury: I am drunk on writing. Is it to prevent reality from destroying me? Perhaps, in the sense that without writing I might truly lack any sense that I am able to do one activity which is fully myself and not related to any sort of dreaded "job-related skill". Perhaps also in the sense that as I am writing and pouring out my thoughts on digital paper, I find myself dealing (terribly indirectly at times) with those issues that "reality" would use to destroy me.

Originally I wrote because I wanted to be something: an author, a writer, someone who definitively changes lives. Now I write because I am something: author, a writer, perhaps someones who occasionally makes a difference in a life.

From my deepest heart, thank you.

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