Why do I write?
That question popped up in a writer’s forum on Facebook recently. I never really thought about it much. If that sounds odd to you, then I must pose the question, ‘How often do you think about breathing?’ Because that, my friend, is what writing is for me.
Writing is breathing, that very basic essence of life. I can no more stop writing than I can willfully stop breathing. I know. I’ve tried. Eventually it becomes too much to hold in and will burst forth, unbidden, even unwelcome at times. My definition of writer’s cramp isn’t the pain in my hand from writing too much but rather the pain in my soul that comes from writing too little.
Writing is experiencing, again and for the first time. There is nothing that I write, not even my silly Facebook posts, that I don’t experience as I write it. I experience joy, sorrow, laughter, tears, grief, pain, wonder, awe, reverence, anything and everything. I see it, touch it, feel it, smell it, taste it and I am in it, completely, utterly and totally. I write about the snow, feel the cold and shiver. I write about fear only to have nightmares. As I write, I don’t see the words on the page. I see what I write unfolding before me as easily as I see the real world unfolding around me.
Writing is praying in ways I was never taught or sought to learn. Even in my fiction, that perpetual conversation carries on whether I’ve intended it or not. I am often shocked by what I find on the pages in my old journals and notebooks, in the essays and poems stashed away in my old water-damaged roll-top desk. Even more so here in this blog roll. I’m not in the habit of re-reading my posts, or most anything else I write for that matter. If not for Deacon Ron’s constant nagging, I probably would never look at any of it again. When I do, I catch glimpses of things I’ve kept hidden, even from myself, especially from myself. I am, after all, my own harshest critic. But I’ve poured out my soul for the one Reader who sees not only between the lines but between the blank spaces as well. The one Reader who sees what I dare not write.
Writing is creating, which is what puts me as close as I get to the Creator Himself. That’s huge for me. Close makes me twitchy if I think about. I don’t think when I write. I breathe. I pray. And then I come alive and rather than think, I forget. I forget the rules of grammar and proper sentence structure. I forget that I don’t want to be close to anyone, even to the only One who has never, could never, would never abandon or betray me. I don’t write as a ‘doing’ verb. I write as a ‘being’ verb. I am writing. I become writing. It doesn’t get any closer than that for me.
I work all first drafts longhand, which sounds crazy given the arthritis in my hands, but that nearly illegible, unedited scrawl is uniquely my own. The ink flows directly from soul to page, without thought, without judgment, without care or caution. Sometimes, often times, it ends up a tangled mess that starts out on one line then suddenly jumps to the margins, up the side, down the other, back two pages or forward three. Yes, a perfect reflection of the mess that lies inside. And that’s okay. I rather like the mess.
Why do I pour out my life on pages, paper or virtual? Because it’s who I am. And if I stopped, I’d might as well lay down and die. And I’m not done yet. I have much work still to do. Or so my Editor tells me…