The Reality of The Writing Practice

Last night someone asked me when I planned to use my writing degree. Yet another person offering their two cents when they know 10% of my story. I’m so glad Jesus is in my heart because my flesh was ready for a fight!!

Anyway, with sleep, prayer, and this morning’s cup of coffee I was back in the game. In my reading (an essential part of the writing practice) I came across the following passage —

Becoming a writer means, among other things, organizing your life around a compulsion: acting selfishly; alienating or imposing upon friends; boring strangers; stealing from acquaintances; deluding yourself; abusing your financial health; returning compulsively to dark alleys; and prostrating yourself before people who don’t care.

The people you love wish you would quit already. But still we keep at it, like our friend the Benzedrine freak, because some beast inside us feels unfed if we do not. As Jill Dearman notes, the act of inventing people and actions is as close as we come to the divine act of creation. Unlike the benny addict, who wants only to consume, writers want to procreate. Writing is — or at least ought to be — a natural part of being human. We encounter the world through characters and images, and make sense of it through stories. We are story-making creatures. And yet the biggest obstacle is often simply getting started, or getting up once we have been knocked down, as inevitably we will be.

— John Leland, in the Foreword of Bang the Keys

I’ve been knocked down and had to start over more times than my fragile mind and body can take, but my spirit is connected to the power of God, and because of that I keep getting up. I keep starting over again. I keep remembering that this is my legacy, this is the part of me that my child can carry when I am no more. This isn’t a perfect life, but perfect lives make for boring stories.

All that to say, Lady, back the hell up. I’m doing exactly what I was born to do.


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