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“A word after a word after a word is power.” — Margaret Atwood
To a writer that question is equivalent to saying, “Why breathe?”
We write to unravel our restless hearts. We write because we’re curious. We write because we can’t stop.
We read because we need inspiration. We scour the dictionary and walk through a forest of library aisles because we love words. We love how they sound. We love the way they thunder across the horizon, no matter what direction we look.
We write because we have that spark inside that requires it.
We write because it’s less suffocating than not writing.
We write because we have questions and want answers.
We write because we want to share our secrets/thoughts/ideas/musings.
We write because we cannot stop ourselves.
And to this aching need we have to piece together words, to this call that howls outside our windows without respite, there’s also an incessant chorus of
- How dare you!?
- Who do you think you are?
- Don’t you know that life is just a gasbag of disappointment and a big hash of doing shit you don’t want to do?
- What makes you think you should get to gallop away, your arms full of words?
- Why should you get to write while the rest of us circle the drain and ask, “Do you want fries with that?”
To those sad-sack naysayers I’d say, “What’s stopping you?”
And don’t say, “I have responsibilities. I have bills,” like I don’t.
The difference is, I write as my second job. It’s what I do for me.
I take care of my responsibilities but I also know the difference between doing what’s urgent and doing what’s important.
Writing is important to me.
What’s important to you?
If you are not currently putting what’s important to you at the top of your ‘to do’ list, why not?
It doesn’t take much time to add yourself to your ‘to do’ list. It doesn’t take a huge time commitment. It just takes one step. One action. One micro-move.
Small, incremental steps eventually add up.
So, if you are like I was fifteen years ago, and you are daydreaming about leaving your day job and becoming the next big literary sensation, I suggest that first you write a sentence, then a paragraph, then an outline, then a plan. I suggest you write every day, like Julia Cameron suggested in her fabulous book, The Artist’s Way. That’s what got me started. Morning pages. I kvetched about my life on paper.
Then, I started to ruminate and reflect. Then, I started to revitalize and re-think my life. Then, I wrote some poems and got them published. Then, I went to graduate school and sat in rooms with other writers, unpacking my red-faced prose, uncertain of myself but willing to risk being seen.
“To sum it all up, if you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish for you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” —Ray Bradbury
That is how we follow our dreams. Step-by-step.
That is how they bloom.
We grit our teeth and we open our mouths and we say what we have to say.
Does it take guts? Hell, yeah.
That’s why it’s called work.
Not because it’s drudgery or because it’s only available to a ‘chosen’ few.
Words are the work of our lives. They’re the blood and marrow inside of us.
We have to get them out.
We do it because we have no choice.
© 2015 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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