Monday, February 15, 2010

Why I Write- Re-Write


I don’t know why I write. Some people want to be doctors, some chefs, some astronauts. The only thing I have ever been good at is writing. It calms me, it embraces my soul, it makes me whole. Some think that racing cars, playing sports, is the be all to end all. But I cannot explain how I feel when I put a sentence on paper and it works. It’s better than food. It’s better than sex. It’s better than anything. The closest thing I can come to explaining is a great chef, who cooks a gourmet meal to see people smiling and enjoying and savouring every bite. Or an architect who sees the wonder in visitors eyes as they marvel at his buildings.

Emily Dickenson wrote “I write for myself and others”. I’ve always written for myself first, never been conscious of my audience. If I am happy with what I write that is paramount. If I touch someone else, that’s gravy. Gravy.

It hasn’t always been easy. I cannot spell for beans, so when I used an old typewriter, I had to write and re write. But something so romantic about hitting the little round buttons and putting a sheet of virginal white paper in between the roller, and then taking it out covered in type. Now I use a Macintosh, it’s the closest thing to the feel of an old typewriter. And I have use spell check, which is one of the greatest inventions to a writer since the fountain pen replaced a quill.

My life hasn’t been easy. Maybe eons ago my soul was asked for another round at life, to learn more lessons. This time it’s been hard, I have experienced the good and the bad. I’ve lived through things that would bring an ordinary person to their knees, but I am not ordinary. I’ve been blessed with an artist’s temperment and an unusual way to see the world, but I’ve also been cursed with Bipolar and all that implies. My relationships with people suffered, as I would rather be alone with my words and my books. Maybe that is why so many writers are drawn to felines. I am like a feline, independent, aloof, and a lover of all fine things and fish and foul. I can spend hours watching people go by me on the street, just as my cat can spend hours from her perch watching birds and squirrels go by.

In summary I would like to close with a poem by the late Raymond Carver. He was the subject of an aborted Masters Thesis, but this poem has stuck with me since I first read it, like a tattoo on my heart.


Gravy
Raymond Carver

No other word will do. For that's what it was.
Gravy.
Gravy, these past ten years.
Alive, sober, working, loving, and
being loved by a good woman. Eleven years
ago he was told he had six months to live
at the rate he was going. And he was going
nowhere but down. So he changed his ways
somehow. He quit drinking! And the rest?
After that it was all gravy, every minute
of it, up to and including when he was told about,
well, some things that were breaking down and
building up inside his head. "Don't weep for me,"
he said to his friends. "I'm a lucky man.
I've had ten years longer than I or anyone
expected. Pure Gravy. And don't forget it.

6 comments:

howard said...

"I cannot explain how I feel when I put a sentence on paper and it works. It’s better than food. It’s better than sex. It’s better than anything."

exactly, and only someone who writes can even comprehend how this could be true. i love this, because i completely relate.

Anthony said...

I get a little glow when I can put something on the blog that makes me smile or think - or both, preferably.
I'd love to do it for a living, but I wonder if I'd find the same joy that I do when I do it as a hobby.
Not forced by a paycheck or a deadline, but encouraged by emotion.

NOS said...

Wow. That is a powerful poem. I can definitely understand why it has stuck with you. Thank you for sharing!

Matthew Isaacson said...

My favorite living author is Neil Gaiman, and I read his blog. One time, someone asked him something about the audience he writes for when he begins a piece, and he said that the only audience he ever writes for is himself. I think there's wisdom in writing for yourself first. I mean, if you don't like it, how can you convince others of its quality.

Bridgette said...

Thanks so much for your post, and your blog. Millions of Americans suffer from a misdiagnosed or undiagnosed mental illness. Silver Hill Hospital has clinicians trained in evaluation, diagnosis and adult and adolescent psychiatric treatment and provides hope for people who may not have been getting the right care. Talking/blogging about mental illness can be extremely helpful not just for yourself, but for others in need. Keep up the good work.

Syd said...

Great poem. I like writing as well but much of mine, except for the blog, has been scientific in nature. A different ilk altogether. Now I enjoy writing on my blog and reading those others who write so well.

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