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This week: Are You A Writer? Why?Edited by: Fyn
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Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.~~Virginia Woolf
The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life and one is as good as the other.~~ Ernest Hemingway
As I read more and more - and it was not all verse, by any means - my love for the real life of words increased until I knew that I must live with them and in them, always. I knew, in fact, that I must be a writer of words, and nothing else. Dylan Thomas
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. ~~Robert Frost
The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money. ~~Karl Marx
But I think talent as a writer is hard-wired in, it's all there, at least the basic elements of it. You can't change it any more than you can choose whether to be right-handed or left-handed. ~~Stephen King
Every human being has hundreds of separate people living under his skin. The talent of a writer is his ability to give them their separate names, identities, personalities and have them relate to other characters living with him. ~~Mel Brooks
I am a writer.
Not because I write, or not simply because I write. Not because I was and am published. Not because I've written plays that were produced. Not because I have followers. Not because I've won writing awards. All of that is merely a by-product of writing.
I am a writer because I can't not write. I must write; pure and simple. Writing is how I both interpret the world around me and how I make it make some semblance of sense. Too long without writing and I get edgy, cranky, turn into a witch of intense proportions. Cut me and I bleed ink. I speak in metaphors. I observe with poem lines bouncing from eye to skull to paper. I write because it is both a joy and sorrow; two sides of a coin balanced on edge.
I have torn my guts out and released poisoned serpents. I have made tears fall and giggles erupt. I can dress my mind in fantastical lifescapes or don dragon wings. I can be crawling with lice on a street corner or soaring in a hot-air balloon. I can be anything or anyone I choose at that moment and not only bring the character part of me to life but actually live inside their skin. I can return to myself exhausted and yet be full of happiness that that piece of me lives and breathes on the page.
Ever since my grandmother taught me to read using a musical staff because it went up and down versus side to side, writing has been the music of my soul. Being dyslectic, when writing by hand I write up the paper so I don't mix the words. Happily, a computer puts the words in the correct order. But I still read up. (I turn the book sideways!)
Writing is an itch that must be scratched, a cramp that must be massaged, an urge that will not be denied. The stories that come to boil in my head must be poured forth, the poems-dragonfly darting in my soul must be set free.
These then, are the reasons I am a writer.
I do not write to make money, although I do. If I had that axe hanging over my head, I would second-guess my words, instead of being the storyteller. Some far distant journey down the road, (I hope) when my soul and body part paths, it is my words I want to be scattered around. Not pictures. Poems and stories for people to pick up and carry with them.
So. Why do YOU write? What compels you to write? It is a true question.
I remember Robert Frost asking me that same question as a young child when I told him I wanted to be a writer. He asked me why after telling me that one didn't choose to be a writer; either one was or was not. Then when I replied that I thought it was fun, he said it needed to be more than that. I said I didn't understand what he meant. He said when (and if) I did, that then I would become a writer because I should have no choice in the matter.
When I was eleven, I met Maia Wojchichowska who had just won the Newberry Award for her book Shadow of a Bull. I told her I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. She looked at me and then asked why I had to wait until I was a grownup. "Better start now," she said. "If you want to be a writer, then write. Now. Today. Tomorrow. Always." She also asked me why. I remember shrugging and saying that I needed to. I told her about that conversation with Robert Frost. She told me she figured I already was a writer because I obviously had figured out what Frost meant that day years earlier. Her words thrilled me. Until that moment I hadn't realized that I had. I've never looked back!
She taught me much about what went into books, encouraged me to read even more than I already did, had me proofing her galleys and tagging along helping her at shows. I learned that writing was WORK! Hard work. Through Maia, I learned it was more than thoughts and words and stories. It was also spelling, grammar, punctuation, tenses (past pluperfect???), and oh, so much more. She had me diagramming sentences. (Anyone old enough to remember doing that in school?) She said to learn Latin and Greek because I had to know whence the words came to truly use them well. (So wish I'd had the opportunity to do just that.)
She took the time to read the first book I wrote and then proceeded to tear it to shreds. Six times. But she was also my first honest to God sale buying books for all her kids and grandkids!
In my senior year of college, one of my professors started our first day of class by informing us that if writing wasn't more important to us than food or sleep to leave his class immediately. Almost half the class stood up hesitantly. He told them to get out! Then, he looked at the fifteen of us left who had fought to even get into his class, and said, "Now, we begin." At the end of that first class, he told us we had an assignment due the following day. The assignment: write WHY we wrote and WHAT made us think we could be writers. I wrote why and why I KNEW I WAS a writer. At the end of that class, our original class of thirty was down to FIVE. Best class I ever took. He was right about the sleep too. Got VERY little that semester. I didn't care. He pushed and shoved until we fell over the precipice and in the ensuing fall realized that the sheer joy of flying was worth all the time and effort, the sleepless nights, the adrenaline writing binges, and hollowed-out feelings of finishing an epic. He taught us to realize that the last five lines were often unnecessary and how to know when we'd really reached 'the end.' He taught us how to look deep and pull out the viscera and he taught us how to write over a hundred lines in under an hour. He graded each of us based upon what he considered our potential to be and on how well we approached that. Never saw more than a 'C' the entire semester until the final collection. Then he told me that I was getting the only 'A' that semester. He wouldn't give me a higher grade earlier because he wanted me to keep pushing. I was hungry and he knew it.
I've worn many hats over the years. I've been a motivational speaker, a teacher, a manager, a mom, a wife, a writer, an author, a publisher, etc., etc.. Inside every hat was inscribed the word writer. It is a part and parcel of everything I do. Not always consciously, but always, always inexorably there.
Ever since Robert Frost asked me why I must write, I've asked every writing class I've ever taught. I still ask myself. All the time.
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