Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Fine and Literate Madness

When I started this blog, I had all manner of things to say. A few years down the line, and posts are fewer and fewer.

There are some folks who never seem to run out of interesting, funny, or just plain crazy things to say. Their posts are eloquent, insightful, even beautiful. Where do they find the words? And why do they share them with the world?

Below is the revised version of an essay I wrote several years ago after a particularly rancorous meeting of the writers group to which I belonged. I can't recall the core of the argument, but it inspired questions: Why are we here? Why do we meet? Must we always agree?

I do remember being strangely quiet, all the things I wanted to say coiled inside like a tight spring. By the time I was finally ready to speak them, this essay emerged instead.

A Fine and Literate Madness


Some of us write to see the dance and skip of words across a page. We write for the simple pleasure of it.

Some of us write to understand our anger, fear, hurt, depression. We write for catharsis, to release the dark fire shut up in our bones.

Some of us write for the music of well-placed words. They are our voice when we cannot sing.

Some of us write to be heard, to silence the tumult, to end the debate. Who can argue with ink on a page?

Some of us speak better with a pen than with our tongue, and thoughts seem to flow through its conduit like blood through a vein.

We all write because we must.

But what do we do with our words? Close them in a journal or fold them into letters? Print them on sturdy paper for posterity? Do we crumple them into balls and play wastebasket games? Like children, are they corrected and instructed and made to go in proper ways? Where do words go once they have been written? Dare we send them out into the world for others to read?

A great piece of spiritual literature speaks timeless wisdom: How can we snatch back words once they have been spoken? Yet books are constant, and one need only turn a page to recapture what was lost. To record one’s thoughts is to open oneself to the world’s gaze for eternity, and few there be who endure such scrutiny. Even the best of us have something to hide. What wizards of words we are to use exposure as concealment.

Yet we write.

Still we write.

Despite lack of time or peace, we write.

What better way to express turmoil and serenity, despair and hope, anger and forgiveness, than to write? Writing is an internal dialogue spoken on a page, for we can begin by proving one point and end by making another argument altogether.

The need that compels any of us toward the blank page is only a catalyst. We may find ourselves staying for an entirely new reason. The true reason, perhaps.

And that, my friends, requires a fresh page.


Phy said...

Here's to an endless supply of fresh pages!

Anonymous said...

good stuff. I like it!

Keanan Brand said...

Thanks, guys!

I'm experiencing deja vu, like maybe I've posted that essay in the past. I suppose I could rummage through the archives.