Last week, I was in a mad rush. trying to stuff all life's disparate elements into the small box of available time. My greatest difficulty was getting my girls to do their homework, which is due every Tuesday. I know if it gets left to the weekend they are not going to make the deadline. But they resist. Every. single. week. I have to put on my cranky pants to get the job done.
This particular afternoon, I had pinned one child to the study desk (figuratively, dear readers), and was in search of the other. I found her lying on the floor, surrounded by pencils and paper. She was writing about sea creatures, illustrating her words with mysterious, psychedelic fish shapes. It was pages and pages long, and very complicated.
After watching her for a minute, I sighed. And slunk quietly away. She was setting down things that she was fantastically interested in. It was like interrupting David Attenborough just to ask the time.
This semester, my fantastical interest is a creative non-fiction course. It's journalism, but with bling bits. The weekly reading, by Lee Gutkind, was like a little pot of gold for me. It narrowed creative non-fiction to five essential elements.
3. real-life truth
4. reading (of which you must do much)
5. 'riting (the craft)
This reading also introduced me to Annie Dillard. Wow.
“A work in progress quickly becomes feral. It reverts to a wild state overnight. It is barely domesticated, a mustang on which you one day fastened a halter, but which now you cannot catch. It is a lion you cage in your study. As the work grows, it gets harder to control; it is a lion growing in strength. You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room. You enter its room with bravura, holding a chair at the thing and shouting, "Simba!” ― Annie Dillard, The Writing LifeIn another reading, a frustrated teacher bellowed at his students "What are you doing here? Why do you write?" There was deathly silence in the room. Someone finally piped up timidly "To leave a record."
That's my reason too. I've never felt motivated to have anything published. Once the piece is written, the tension releases. I'm a busy person, and working to get published is a whole other job. One that takes time away from writing.
I use words to 'catch' meaningful moments. In contrast, my daughter writes to catalogue the oceans.
Why do you write?