Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Writing Life

Blog #20, for Fun-a-Day 2014-- a blog post a day for the month of January.

There is a poem on my mother's mirror, that I wrote when I was 8. It's about being lost in a thunderstorm, and the light of my mother's love, guiding me home.  I remember making it into a poster for my mother, and her pride at receiving a poem from me.

That's all the affirmation I needed. I continued to write all through high school and college, poems mostly. I took classes on the craft of writing and the study of it, though didn't commit to an overall focus in it. I was afraid of committing too much to it because it never could butter my bread, so to speak. It never could be enough, I thought. But I've never stopped writing. I've had long dry spells, it's true. I've also had long time periods of questioning whether or not it's worth it to write. But I've kept it up.

I've had a strong sense, always, that writing is for reading-- that we are meant to engage in acts of communication with our writing. This means a fundamental interconnection between reader and writer, and a fundamental connection of the writer to the world. Writing that takes us out of the world is in fact grounded in it. Even the most alien of texts speaks to our lives, and sometimes I mean literally. Octavia Butler's Lilith's Brood is a story about family, belonging, autonomy, and community in a deeply human way, though it is about humans and alien species interacting and breeding.

I've written elsewhere about the shift towards living truly in the world, more closely connected to it, with greater presence and purpose. I think writing this blog, and writing in general, as a practice, is part of that picture, for me.  Today I attended a writing workshop with the Burlington Writer's Workshop, and it was exciting to be back talking words and writing after almost 20 years away from it. It was a creative non-fiction group, and the writing was really fun to read and the conversation really satisfying to a part of me I hadn't attended to in a long time.

What makes us abandon the things that are closest to us? What makes us return to them, and find them newly green, when they have been neglected for so long? I feel like there is, for all of us, something waiting on the other side of doubt, on the other side of the smallness that was given us, or that we convinced ourselves of, long ago. I've made these changes and moves in my life, uprooted a family from stability and normalcy in defiance of this learned abandonment. That sounds paradoxic, but it's not.

Writing is a gift, a challenge, and a responsibility, like anything cherished. I hope I can remember the importance of this tool, this vocation, and this discipline, long after I have stopped writing a blog a day.

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