“Still writing,” a friend will ask? “Another book coming out soon?” “What’s it about?” In my own list of FAQs, those are among the top. And yes, I am still writing.
I write because it’s what I’ve been doing for more of my life than anything else. Well, that’s not exactly true. Talking came before writing, just like it did for everyone. But in terms of occupation, writing is what I’ve been doing since I was in my late teens, and continue to do every day.
My simple definition of writing is that I put words on paper or on a screen that take a thought (or an incident or an act) from an initial observation straight on through (well, sometimes in a bit more convoluted line) to a conclusion. It may be an essay or a chapter in a story, or something I’m thinking about writing in one form or another. I keep pen and notepad handy wherever I am, to jot down any of the things that may lead to something larger or more developed than a passing thought.
Occasionally I feel that the effort to write is just that: an effort. I am distracted by other things, by responsibilities I have taken on or had thrust upon me; things involving family or friends or the wider world of my community or even the larger world in which I live. And I wonder if I should stop.
I can’t, though. Somewhere deep in me perhaps, there is a fear: if I stop writing, I will stop being, become one of those who sit passively and let the world come to them, let life pass them by. But not I. Writing allows me to feel my life still beating in me. What would I do if I didn’t write? There are only so many things I can do that challenge me physically, few that challenge me mentally, and of them all, the physical and mental aspects of writing are the most rewarding.
I like to see words I don’t expect find their way onto the screen or paper in front of me. Seeing a thought go from lightbulb to illumination: that’s what writing is for me. Seeing it in front of me is more than a mechanical act. It serves as the carrot does for the horse: to drive me on, forward, waking my senses and offering new life to the idea of being alive.
I write, therefore I am.