Why do writers write? For me, it is a rather compulsory action and I feel there is little choice in the matter. Writers and most real artists are highly sensitive people. Our antennas probably extend a tad further upward and outward into the atmosphere.
What some people may ‘blow off’ or ignore affects the writer more deeply. Others may walk by and barely give a sigh, but with a writer, an event or incident remains and stays a little longer. Earlier today, I was driving along and noticed that a man in a pick-up truck had pulled over to the right. It was raining lightly and I could see that there was a ladder and several long 6- foot metal poles in the middle of the street.
He was apparently in distress and I immediately pulled over behind him. It was not much that I could do, but I put on my flashers to alert the other drivers to at least slow down. He had lost his work equipment and was trying to retrieve it. What most amazed me was the insensitivity of the other drivers. They seemed to speed up and not one other person stopped. It was not a huge street, but it was certainly busy enough for there to be a catastrophe if conditions had deemed it so.
I just sat there as a silent support as he made at least five trips with full arms to get all of his equipment. He placed the items back on the open flatbed of the pick-up truck. After he had finished, I pulled off and headed on home. This was a prime example of what I meant by people blowing things off.
I empathized with this man and that is what we as writers do well. We write because we feel. We feel others’ pain and we most certainly feel our own. We write to heal, to feel better and to reach another state of mind. We can talk it through on paper until we see situations from another angle and we are then able to advance.
Writing helps us navigate life’s meandering road. If something is unsettling, we write to get our bearings. We write to reach our own truth, our own reality and for me this helps me validate my feelings. I can take ownership for what I am feeling and cleave to my right to have those feelings until I can turn the corner and find some new perspectives.
We also write to probe or discover what is hidden inside. We all have stored information and writers are often surprised at what emerges from those suppressed files during the writing process. Sometimes there are snippets of stories and tales somewhere down at the bottom and as we write, some of what we have heard or seen may come pouring out on the page.
I was reminded of one of the Greek myths and had to revisit the story of Midas and the whispering reeds. Apollo gave Midas the ears of an ass (donkey) because he was angry with him. Midas wore a turban to conceal his shame but his servant had to cut his hair and saw the ears. He could not keep it inside but he knew that he could not tell anyone. Instead, the servant went towards the waters, dug a hole and whispered the secret in the hole and covered it up. The reeds grew and the wind blew as the reeds waved and told the tale, “Midas has the ears of an ass” (donkey). Soon, the whole world knew his secret.
What was hidden inside may come to light in our writings as we heal ourselves and entertain others. All writers hope that they can make that connection and some reader will say, “I can relate to this. I understand. I have seen this. I have felt this way.” We all want to touch others with our words. But one thing is certain, we write because we must.
Lynn October 15, 2014