Saturday, March 6, 2010

I Write

I was asked the other day why I write. So, I thought about it. And then I thought some more. And then I tried to go to sleep but instead kept myself awake trying to come up with something clever. At this point I will settle for just plain truth.

The truth is elusive to me on this subject. Partly because I don't really know, I just do it, and partly because the reasons why I write change all the time, like the color of the sky at dusk.

Writer's block is not something I've ever experienced, but lately I've been going through a phase where I think that no one could possibly be interested in what I have to say, or even the way I say it.

This has nothing to do with my concept of self, and everything to do with my concept of the quality of my writing. Everything I write is not fabulous, but it isn't terrible either. I am not personally satisfied, and so I write and write and revise and start over. I know what my writing lacks, and that is always better than not having any idea, but it is infinitely more uncomfortable.

When I sang in my youth, in high school and college, I had a pretty good concept of my ability. Good technique, but the voice itself didn't have that "it," the subtle quality that captures attention. I was okay with that. The part I wasn't good at was the part I had no control over. I was good enough to sing Master Classes and fortunate enough to learn from gifted artists, but I knew I could not be a singer. I was simply not good enough.

When I was a nurse, I was also very cognizant of my strengths and weaknesses, even to the point of realizing before it was apparent to anyone else that I should stop doing patient care because it was sucking the life out of me.

With writing, I have found something that I desperately want to be good at. But I'm not yet. I can't even explain to myself why I want to be a good writer. Is it a reach for fame or recognition? Is it a choice of something, anything I can practice long enough to master? Is it selfish or is it for others?

At some level, it must be from the desire to make a mark in the world, to make a difference by word or action in the lives of others. But why writing? I have been a word snob my whole life, so that part makes sense. I always think that I am entitled to my opinion, and so is everyone else, so check off that box too. I am inherently physically lazy, so writing works for that as well, but the collection of attributes does not begin to describe what prompts me to put words on the page.

"I desire . . ."

Finishing the phrase gives me the best and only answer I can come up with that is true. "I desire . . . to communicate." For all the reasons communication exists, both to express myself, and to connect with others. Sometimes the simplest answer is the best, an Occam's Razor example if ever there was one.

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