IWSG: Writers helping writers. The brainchild of our fearless ninja leader, Alex Cavanaugh, this month's co-hosts are: Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner.
I wrote a poem the other day. I’d been on social media, reading a post that shared texts between children trapped in school during the shooting in Florida and their parents, and when the tears started to dribble, I needed to get the raw pain out. That’s when I realized there are two kinds of writing for me.
The first, I’ll call release writing and it appeared inside the multiple diaries I kept from the age of 15 to 25. The journals were lined notebooks in which I spilled emotions from everyday life without worrying about being criticized or judged. My first poems appeared in those pages and for many years, the diaries and the poems were my go-to when it was time to let the air out of my feelings. For the longest time, all my writing was personal. The early posts from this blog came from a similar place.
But, then I started writing fiction. And while creating fictional is personal too, in a way, it’s not. Yes, they’re my stories, but they’re not stories about me. And yet, the time I take to think, edit, to rewrite in order to make something read “real” feels as authentic as when my heart is bleeding and I have to get it on to a page.
An acquaintance of mine, a talented pianist, recently suffered an unspeakable tragedy. I saw him today for the first time since, and he spoke of how his music has changed, has been enhanced by his loss. “Pain,” he said, “brings one to a deeper level.” After he left, I thought of the poem I’d written about Florida and how the pure ache that colored it helped me let go of something I may not have been able to, any other way.
The same way my acquaintance turns to the piano, I write to purge the hurt or get to a truth, whether it’s one that lives inside me, or one that rests at the core of my story. And, after an unplanned poem, or an hour trying to formulate one perfect sentence in a novel, I’m wrung out, clean, and able to start again.
Which is perhaps why I love writing so very much.
Why do you write?