It’s sometimes about my need to be heard. There are some days that I need to know that people are listening, and my voice can be heard above the chatter of the world, beyond the anonymity of one in seven billion, and despite the coldness and darkness of life. I’m still in that cement box at the bottom of the ocean, desperate to be listened to, and understood.
It’s often about the potential. That’s the word they used for so many years before I got old and ordinary, “potential”. It appears to be full of hope and imminent success, but “potential” is always just out of reach, just like trying to catch dandelion seeds on a wisp of wind. I need to write to convince myself that I am more than my potential. I am a published author now, but unless you’re Harper Lee you can’t rest on that one accomplishment. Singer-songwriter Randy Sparks wrote “I can’t be contented with yesterday’s glory, I can’t live on promises winter to spring. Today is my moment, now is my story, I’ll laugh and I’ll cry and I’ll sing.” Substitute “write” for “sing” and Randy pretty much sums up my feelings. I need to write today, because today is my moment.
It can be the excitement and adrenalin rush of creating. Having that “fire in your belly” about a story title, a plot idea, or a character’s name. That nudge that wakes you out of a deep sleep, or sometimes slaps you in the face with inspiration. It’s the joy of a well-crafted paragraph, a poignant moment of poetry, or a perfectly unique sentence that makes you want to pick up a chisel and carve it in stone. It can be so very rare, but completely intoxicating. I think I understand something of what it feels like, emotionally, to go through the discomfort and pain of childbirth, only to have that experience softened with time so you want to repeat it. As a writer you can be numb to writer’s block and terrible first drafts, missed deadlines and all-nighters, because those moments of pure delight at a beautiful turn of phrase, make you forget. You are called back to the pen, the typewriter or computer to do it all over again.
I need to write every day to keep my brain active. When the words I speak do not come clearly or promptly, I need to write to know the grey matter still works. Even when I stumble and stutter, I can often find fluidity and clarity in the written word. I may pause for the right synonym or metaphor or verb, but through my fingers I find a highway to expression, and the road is clear for maximum speed (even when my tyres are bald and my fuel tank is empty).
I need to write because I’d be lost without it. For every day that passes that I don’t imagine, create or compose, is a day a little less lovely. There’s a discernible difference in my psyche when I don’t honour my poet. When I don’t write, a little piece of me feels stymied; the wizard in me loses a little of his magic; and the young boy doubts his ability to climb to the top of the tree. To not write would be psychological and spiritual suicide.
And lastly, I need to write to be me. No other writer ever has or ever will have a voice like mine. While I may share a similar style or construct as other writers, I am the only man who has lived 44 years, 9 months and 12 days, in this body and at this time. My writing is completely unique. Perhaps more importantly, my writing expresses the experiences and perceptions, the lessons and revelations that only I have had. My words, like my memory, are my history. One will disappear when my earthly body is dead, but the other may go on to live on in the hearts and minds of others, and remain in the pages yet to be discovered and read by future generations.
I am a writer, and I need to write.
© 2015 Benjamin S. MacEllen
This article is published with the kind permission of Ben MacEllen, author of A Cut Closer to Whole, published by A&A Book Publishing (www.shortstoppress.com). Ben was coached through the writing of his manuscript by A&A Director, Joy Aimée.
Ben is an advocate for veganism and gender issues. You can contact him at https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.macellen