On Writing

There are few joys like that of writing, to use what we take in, what we experience, what we long for, what we rage against to make something lasting and worthwhile. To draw from our imaginations the filaments that spin a web and snare winged glimpses of something more.

This is beauty. This is joy. An irresistible spring of a creative elixir we cannot help but drink. We are drunk with it, this act of writing that demands our participation. We are immersed and at its mercy.

But this beautiful world is fraught and perilous and not for the weak of spirit or faint of heart. According to Virginia Woolf:

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

And still we write. We write because there’s a purpose and pleasure in telling tales, true or imaginary—and permit me to say the imaginary are also true, as true or more so than real life. Stories have souls made of words that transform and inform—perhaps the writer most of all.

It’s a journey of discovery, a peeling by Aslan’s claw of all our defenses until we step out and stand before him naked.

Flannery O’Connor says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

The act of writing reveals the writer as creation reveals the Creator. We become known even to ourselves through the words on our pages. And if we’re willing, if we have no fight left in us, we become known to the One who put that spark inside us.

We must be willing to enflesh the seed and let it grow until with great pains it comes forth. And when we look into the face of our beloved, we must be strong enough to accept it might be ugly, weak, barely formed and in drastic need of surgery.

Only then can we claim to be writers.

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