I am often asked why I write. Sometimes, the question is more about the topic or tenor of the writing than that I put these thoughts into essays or pieces. The unstated implication is, please stop, yet I am undeterred.
Sometimes, the questions are less about the topics than about my motivation for writing, and the corollary “why do you want people to read what you write?”
I think the answer surprises most. Those who consider writing a burden, laden with rules and regulations too complex to bother mastering—what is a dangling participle or a split infinitive anyway—wouldn’t understand.
I write because I have to. Something inside me compels me to early every morning get up (there’s your split infinitive, and it makes me cringe to leave it dangling there) and write.
When I first begin my morning writing, I never know what will come forth. I just let whatever has percolated overnight in my sleeping mind come out. Most of the time, these words are never seen by anyone but me (and I am sure many are glad of that). Still, sometimes the magic happens, and a line or paragraph or five thousand words appear on the page that I send out into the world.
It is for these moments, those times where a phrase fairly lifts off the page and takes on a life of its own, that I live.
While I have projects in the works, new books, short stories, blog pieces to polish and work on, they all began with a spontaneous generation of words from deep in my soul.
A (mis)quote oft attributed to Shakespeare says, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” The implication being every story—the hero’s quest, unrequited love, overcoming the monster, and others—have all been told.
The actual quote is from Ecclesiastes 1:9. It might surprise those of you who know my standing on religion that I’ve read the Bible, but you shouldn’t be. Some of the writing in such religious texts often sprung from the same inner psyche’s hidden inspirations as drive my own. Be it religious or secular, coupled with the hard work and rewriting, such inspiration produces the best writing.
“What has been is what will be,Ecclesiastes 1:9
and has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.”
To give Shakespeare his due, he also wrote about the same sentiment,
If there be nothing new, but that which isWilliam Shakespeare, Sonnet 59
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil’d,
Which labouring for invention bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child.
Oh that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done,
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or where better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
Oh sure I am the wits of former days,
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.
While there may be “nothing new under the sun,” there are those as yet undiscovered places. Those things that may have always been, but we have yet to find. Writing can uncover those hidden gems. And thus, I seek them each day.
I use various tools to edit my writing. One such system tracks the number of words I analyze. Over the past nine years, I’ve written over eighteen million words, of which just a small percentage made it to the public eye.
I will continue to write as long as the words remain trapped inside, yearning to come out. And when I write my last word, I hope I will have found some of those gems of phrase hidden in those undiscovered places.
For someone like me—driven to write—there can be no finer path through life.
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