Why Do I Write?
I stayed up until 2 a.m. this week because a poem was rattling around in my head. I just needed to get it down on paper. Before I knew it, hours had passed. That sometimes happens when I’m writing and editing.
Not hard to imagine someone saying, “What? And you didn’t have a deadline to meet? So why would you do that?”
I know. It sounds anything but sane. Unless you are a writer or artist, maybe there’s just no way to understand.
How does this keep happening to me?
I grew up in Arkansas with childish senses, living with brothers and sisters, a mother and father. Lived in the country some years, in town some years. I grew up in a time of clocks ticking, trains blowing whistles, homemade bread, a chair creaking, screen doors slamming.
Today when I hear a click, chatter, whistle, I return briefly to that world. And sometimes, I’ll try to catch the moment by writing it down. A little gift to myself if I can capture it.
What do I do with it? If I can catch it by writing it down, I often share it with others. It’s a piece of goodness, so I share it.
Writing phrases and words in a notebook did not happen until I was in my thirties. I’d write a little ditty or poem now and then. I was not aware of it having “a hold” on me.
Always a reader, but never did I think of myself as a writer until about 15 years ago. As I look back, though, I’ve enjoyed the spoken and written language all my life. Sounds, syllables, repetition. If a bird cawed, I might try to match it. Really! It was silly and fun!
On looking back at my life, I was rarely bored. There were lots of people, grass, sky, libraries, birds to entertain me, to fascinate me.
Babies cooing, gurgling. Sounds, smells, sights, touch. When you really slow down and become aware, maybe you are opening an invisible door, a sensory door. A door where you gather new words. Then you rub words together and see what they might become.
If someone says “wet dog,” I can smell it. Maybe you can, too. I can hear the sounds that happen in a dentist’s office. Imagination, always running.
At some point, maybe when I was in my fifties, I began reading contemporary free verse poetry. Oh, my goodness! It changed my world.
When I started writing poetry, I had a place to put the flowering crabapple trees, nimbus clouds, the squawk of a blue heron. Then it would not just be for me. It would be for anyone who might read my work.
It was first a gift to me, you see, when I heard the heron. But when I wrote about the great bird in flight or when it dipped down for a trout, it became my gift to readers.
How do I begin to tell you about the many writers who’ve gifted me with what they saw, heard, felt, smelled, thought? I am indebted to all of them for sharing with me via books.
Stay with me. Somehow this connects with why I write.
I so want you to see the copperhead or the barn swallow or the man with twinkly eyes that I bother to write it down. Maybe it’s the way I invite you into my corner of the world.
Life is a short window.
My desire, I think, is to acknowledge what is happening in front of me, and surely it is worth being shared.
Lots of paths in my lifetime. Some green and rewarding, some full of brambles. I learned from all the paths, all the people I came across.
Now, I’m definitely on a writing path. I’ve been on it for a while, and it has been one of the sweetest paths I’ve ever taken. This one path has led me to self-reflect, enjoy the journey, see what’s in front of me, and continue to become me.
It’s not over.
At last, I realize my life is becoming the blessings I manage to receive on my path—you know, what I do with my time, how I interact with another person, how I respond to a critter or a storm. It’s a part of the song which continues.
I am given gifts as I live, and I am trying to give them to others by writing about them. I can’t do it without the Lord, of course. The Lord is my Helper. And that makes me happy.
Dear readers, I thank you for receiving my blogs, my poems. Grateful. And you have my full permission to share anything I write and post here.
A path near Norfork, Arkansas. Photo taken by Pat Durmon, March 24, 2019.