This piece will be unusual. Not my ‘standard issue’ inspirational stuff. But still, I hope it lights a fire in you… in ways you do not expect… in ways that inspire you to be your own archaeologist… and in any way that works for you…
A friend told me recently that he admired my determination with regard to my writing. I thought it was a peculiar thing to say because writing does not require my determination at all. This started me wondering, if it doesn’t require determination, then what is it that makes me write?
I write because I can. I write because my arm and hand need to feel the movement of fountain pen across paper (which is far more satisfying that using a computer) and it feels like a release of something rumbling around in my guts. It is a compulsion. Although a frustrating one when I need to do it but the words do not come, or when I am unable to play with them because I am obliged to be otherwise occupied.
I write because it’s there. It’s like I’m part of something I cannot describe, something that wants telling and it has chosen me, hunted me down, stalked me and said, “There you are, you’ll do, you’ll say it ’cause it needs to be said.” And so I say it.
I write because I’m lonely and the words keep me company. And the notebook and the pen, they are my friends. My beloved friends. My lovers. I caress them just as they caress me in my mind, my heart and soul. The words are all I have, really. They never leave me. They roll through my head all the time, words, words, words, rambling, rushing, floating, racing, twisting, playing – tumbling like gymnasts and they never run out of energy. They never run out of momentum. Words – writing words – this is my full-time lover.
What would I be without writing? It is unthinkable. It is incomprehensible. Words – me. Me – words. You cannot separate us. If you do, it would surely mean my death, as cutting off my ability to communicate would most certainly end my life. It is not just the outputting of words, it is the inputting as well. Conversation and information-gathering are just as essential for me, although I am gathering information every moment that I’m conscious, because life and experiences are everywhere; every moment invites noticing what’s in it. I would not want to live if I were reduced to being wordless and unable to write about what I notice in every precious moment.
Even the horrible moments are precious. They are life. They teach. They impress. They want noticing so I record what they ask me to write.
I write because I must. As surely as the sun rises and sets, as surely as the moon will smile knowingly on me until I draw my last breath. I have to say something and it may not be good. It may not even be mine. It may come from “out there”. But it comes through me and I must write.
I write because I’ve been silenced for much of my life and when others were not doing it to me, I silenced myself; I’d been very well-trained. I have nothing to say and plenty to feel and sometimes the only way to feel it is to write it – or else I bury it. I hide it even from myself. I’ve been so good at silencing myself when others did not, I haven’t even known I was doing it. I don’t want to feel and this is why I write. How ridiculous. How simple. How sacred.
I write to release the crap that lurks and hides. I write to let it out of prison – to free it – and more so, to free myself. The toxic sludge that steeps and rots inside me has been there for decades while I didn’t know what to write, didn’t have time or energy to write. It’s been fermenting and eating away at me for a lifetime and now I must write and set us both free.
I write because it feeds me. It feeds my soul. It feeds my imagination. It feeds my mind. The words nourish me, they scramble around me in a flurry like a frantically tossed salad, like autumn leaves tumbling across the road in a gust of wind. They beckon and say, “Here I am, you must play with me.” And they play hide and seek, their favourite, with “Tag” being a close second.
And so I play with my friends who never leave me, because it does my heart good. They keep me young. They teach me about me. They teach me to be me. My words love me no matter what, and this is why I write.
My words don’t mind if I’m miserable. They are at least as miserable, right along with me. They don’t mind if I’m sad. They can cry far better than I. They will be with me always, they feel what I feel, and although sometimes they’re steeped in mud, they come out clear as crystal once they organise themselves. And the light shines through them again; I can see.
I love my words even when we argue and it seems they don’t love me back. We have a little battle now and then and they remind me who’s boss, so I don’t give them orders and I can write again.
I write because even without pen and paper, I would still string words together in my head, the same as if I were writing them down. But thank heaven for paper because writing is hypnotic for me. I feel my breathing slow. I zero in on the paper, the tip of the fountain pen. I feel my brain go into hyperfocus and overdrive while my body slides so easily into a trance, a place of relaxation that is meditative and calming.
I write because I breathe and with every breath I’m absorbing sounds and feelings and words and things that want digesting, and then regurgitating as words. If I stop writing, it means I will have stopped breathing. Even if I have nothing to say. Even if I have everything to say and no one hears it. I will have to carry on writing and breathing, being myself in a way I never was until now and I have my words to thank for it.
I write because I need to dig. I am an archaeologist, excavating, everywhere, everything outside but most frighteningly inside. I will dig and expose, excavating the darkest, nastiest, hurtingest places in my soul. I don’t want to and I don’t enjoy it, but I must do this. It is no longer an option. The time has come. I write because it is time to tear myself open, rip into the darkness and rummage around in the dust, the decay, the rotting old rubbish that’s buried layer upon layer.
Yes, I must write this, too, because I want to know myself. I can never really know anyone or anything other than, or better than, myself. Even if I think I know everything about a stone, its shape, its size, its colour, its bumps and smooth bits, even if I know its taste and its smell, I do not know the stone completely, for I am not the stone. I can never know what it is like inside the stone or what it’s like to BE the stone.
I can only know ME. And I can only do this if I dig into the cesspools that are hidden in my mind and my soul. I need to know myself completely – intimately – more intimately than ever before. I need to take inventory if I’m to clean out, clear out that stuff. Only then will I be able to find the sparkling light that I know is buried there, and only then will I be able to give all there is to give.
I write because I’m not afraid to say what needs saying. I write because I am afraid to say what needs saying. Whether or not I’m afraid, it still needs saying.
And so I write. And still, I do not know why. I know only that I am compelled to drag the pen across page after page making words words words. But it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to know why. I just do. I just am. I just write.