I will at some point soon write a blog about why writing is important for everyone. First, I thought I would share an essay that I wrote a couple of years ago.
What, exactly, is it that I think I am doing when I string words on these empty pages to make sentences and paragraphs? What makes me think that I can use the word “writer” to define myself? I have an urge to commit thoughts and ideas to paper. For much of my life, after accumulating an early and ego bruising small mound of rejection letters, I have done this only for my own fulfillment and didn’t attempt to gain any audience other than pride in crafting real snail mail letters to family, friends and carefully crafted business correspondence. I feared censure, rejection and needed no audience to savor the way that words collected to create some meaning on the pages.
Am I a writer only when I have published my work and gained a broader audience? Do I have to have readers to be a true writer? Or is it enough that this word, Writer, is a prominent part of my self- definition? At any rate, I am again attempting to reach out to the larger world and share my writing.
There are certain themes that resonate for me, that flow through my mind and ask to be explored. My essays are the result of some internal debate, an attempt to give wandering thoughts clarity. I want to present a concise and compelling argument for my position. Although the word argument, certainly the idea of conflict that it conjures, is too overused in these “Reality TV” times. Reason, then is a strong alternate word.
Themes that repeat through my life are the importance of having a personal code (taking responsibility for your words and actions), the search for clarity, and the need for community (both personal and in a broader sense). When questioning my own thoughts and actions, it is my intent that I must be able to express clearly. (This is also true when I question others – I ask them to define their intent, since this intent should guide the content of their discussion or argument, as it should mine.)
Serenity, a state of calm reflection, is my goal. In this complex and fast paced world, it is a Holy Grail – highly worthy, but ultimately unattainable? Herman Melville, I learned through Sara Paretsky, talked about the “silent grass growing mood” necessary for writers to be able to ply their craft. A writer must be able to sift through all the components of a story to access the central theme, to develop it and carry it through to a logical conclusion. The writer must also weave in compatible or sometimes conflicting themes in order to give the story resonance. This is a truth for fiction or non-fiction writing. And all this must be communicated to the reader, or the whole point is lost. Or perhaps it’s not lost if in writing I achieved a greater understanding that I can build on the next time to create something compelling.
Harmony, with others and with my surroundings, is another goal. In bringing discordant sounds together the plan is to make something better than the parts. I like to read my own writing out loud when I edit, to let the words roll around my head and out of my mouth to bounce off the walls. Sometimes they fall flat and then I know that I must make adjustments.
Curiosity is a driving force, a constantly renewing energy in a world of limited resources. My writing is the best way to process the behavior and events that I observe. The way that things often go awry due to things not said or not done. I must unravel the aspects of the story to be able to convey them clearly on the page.
All of these preceding ideas lead us to communication. A word endlessly tossed around until it almost has no meaning, and yet has such import. To communicate well is to create mutual understanding. There is some concern on my part that I will not be able to adequately communicate my intent. Once a piece is completed and published, the writer must be prepared for misunderstanding or even misappropriation of the work. It is fascinating to find out the reader’s interpretation, sometimes quite alien to the writer’s meaning. Perhaps the writer must be clearer or perhaps not.
When I was a younger writer, editing and expanding on ideas or themes was not possible. Once I completed a thought, I was essentially done with it. If my writing is now more sustainable, then I must strive to be open to all interpretations or to express my own vision most carefully.
As a writer, first I am an observer. I have my own perspective, but I must be prepared to set that aside to get to the real center of the story. I can’t make the story; I have to let the story tell itself even if it feels as if I am headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes we learn more when we think that we are lost. We have to pay closer attention to everything around us to get our equilibrium back.
© 2012 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations