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.
No other word will do. For that's what it was.
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.