Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I Write Therefore...

Slice of Life Challenge, Day 5

Years ago, I typed out and taped a quote from one of my favorite books, Annie Dillard's The Writing Life, to the top of my desktop monitor: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing." Today, I am a writer.

I have spent my entire day writing.  Actually, it would be more accurate to say that I have spent my entire day rewriting.  The last 14 hours...oh dear, seriously, that long??!?!...have been spent revising two pieces that I have due for one of my graduate classes tomorrow night.  I must confess that I don't know that I ever spent quite this much time on an essay for undergrad.  Wait.  Maybe once.  I had this essay due my sophomore year for a notoriously difficult poetry teacher (rumor was he was only allowed to teach required courses because he gave so few passing grades) comparing the poems of Dylan Thomas from different periods of Thomas's writing career.  I wrote that darn paper three times.  Once because had failed to save and lost the entire piece when I went to print from my word processor (yup, I am that old), and the second time because I accidentally deleted the darned essay after getting three quarters of the way through writing it. By four in the morning, the essay was finally completed, and I knew the work of Dylan Thomas better than any Ph.D. candidate on campus, having had to rewrite that *expletive* *expletive* *expletive* essay so many *expletive* times.

But today's work was different.

In my earlier undergrad and graduate programs, I have done well.  I am not someone who has struggled with writing or with school work.  I like school.  I like writing.  But, I have never put a lot of time into what I have done, usually waiting until the last possible moment to put writing pieces together, knowing that the writing would come.  Lately, however, this has not been the case.  I struggle over my words, rewriting them time and again.  This is not an exercise.  This is what I am doing.  My words matter.  I am a writer.

Weird.

I don't have a book.  I haven't published in print anywhere recently.  But this is what I consider to be my life's work.  Writing.  Helping other writers discover their voice.  In doing so, better understanding my own voice.

It feels hesitant and awkward to proclaim that I am a writer. I am shy about this. But not apologetic.

I am a writer.

Annie Dillard wrote, "One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes."

And so, I will continue to write, to obsess over my words, to give freely as to not become lost.
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