Give Thanks… You Are A Writer

My wife is an artist.  She’s also a really good writer, but even in her most self-aware moments she won’t cop to it.  But the thing is, the same is true for her art. 

Writing gives her no pleasure.  It’s work for her.  She thinks what I do is… cool and inaccessible. 

In contrast, her art is sweet morphine flowing through her gypsy soul.  It comes naturally, it is who she is.  And she is many things, many women, an enchantress of whimsy and a portal to the subtext of the world which finds expression through the images she creates.

She sees God in flowers and in the intricate mysteries of drying leaves.  She immortalizes moments and merges the whimsical with vivid truths.

Writers do that, too.

I believe it is nearly impossible to be an artist – or a writer, for that matter – and claim to believe in nothing.  My wife believes in a Creator and in life, and her art is her worship.

People look at her stuff and marvel.  And yet, when we talk about art and artists, she feels separate and unworthy.  Even though our walls attest to her gift, and her days are filled with the creation of beauty, expression and wonder.

She views life through the lens of an artist.  Because she is one.  Simply because she is immersed in the pursuit of its expression.

And she should be thankful.

Writers are similarly blessed.

I know many writers – they flock to workshops and conferences – who won’t cop to the nametag.  As if there is some milestone, some mysterious criteria – like being published or having sat in front of agent pitching your humble stories – that puts space between those who tinker with writing and those who are unquestionably lost to it.

Screenwriter Larry Ferguson (The Hunt for Red October, Aliens, and other notable films) said it well, though I paraphrase here: A writer is someone who writes.  Period.  And if you are going to write, do it with passion and courage.  It is a noble thing, and in any case, at any level, it’s always better than carrying a gun.

So give thanks today.  Because you are a writer.

I’ve often said that writers are different. 

Not better, certainly, as history and a good look around the writing conference room will attest.  The ghost of Sylvia Plath still lingers at the bar.

But writers experience the world and themselves in a unique way.  We look for meaning.  We see it even when we are not paying attention, which is seldom because, as writers, paying attention is what we do.  We are scribes to the ticking of the days, and we have a job to do.  We are not at peace unless we are doing it.

We recognize irony, we look the abyss in the eye, and we pause to honor beauty, while others are fighting to change lanes or raising a glass to… nothing at all.

We go on amazing adventures.  We encounter great heroes and disturbing villains.  We fall in love, over and over, and our broken hearts heal in our next story. 

We remember with a vividness that challenges the laws of time itself.

Along the way, we encounter and embrace our truth.

We have a free pass into darkness, and when we return, we celebrate the sunshine.

This is a wonder available to all, but known by few.  If you are reading this, then you are a writer, simply by paying attention.  You are already nodding.

Our burden – which in our weaker moments (of which we have many) is how we view it – this burning need to explore life in words is misunderstood and elusive, even to us.  And yet, who among us does not look upon someone who writes in a journal every night and not see someone special there, someone who is, at least in one aspect, alive like we are.

Writers get to embrace the double negative and skip the question mark when the inquiry is rhetorical.

Writers are blessed.  Not cursed as some would believe. 

And with great blessings come great responsibility (there’s a beer commercial out there that leverages this same thought, an example we writers are always humbled by banal reality), and ours is to write it down, make sense of the noise, to reach out and provoke and probe, to ask questions and venture answers.

To embrace life, wrestle it to the mat, submit to it and conquer it.  To love it to death.  To stretch limits, consider the unthinkable and the impossible.  Allow fear and love and hope to ooze from our pores.

To hug the world.

All this, simply by applying butt to chair and allowing your mind to spill onto a blank screen or page, often with a drop of blood or two.  When writing calls our name, we must answer before we find peace.

So give thanks today.  You are a writer. 

The bearer of a quiet mantle that cannot be taken from you, even in the face of life’s most challenging chapters.  Which, no matter how it slams you, will end up on your page, battled and bruised and broken down into sensibility, because you are a worthy foe.

And in doing so, you will have conquered it. 

You will spin it and apply meaning to it and then, no matter what happens to your work, bestow it upon the world.

You will throw it out there.  At the end of the day this is all any writer can do.

Even a story that resides in a drawer has been given life, and thus has been released from the prison of the writer’s soul.

Writing is a great big shiny key that sets you free.

Writing is a worthy purpose.  What you write is a gift you are giving back to the universe.  If you don’t feel that to be the case, keep working on it until you do.

God, or whatever word you use in that context, loves nothing more than to see his children seek to understand.

And that, dear writer friends, is the essence of being alive, and on a level that few attain. 

At least, until they pick up a pen.

Image credit: a painting by Laura Brooks.  Used without the artist’s permission, because she’s downstairs preparing a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner and feels unworthy of the nametag of “artist.”  As you can see, she is avoiding the obvious.

33 Comments

Filed under other cool stuff, Uncategorized

33 Responses to Give Thanks… You Are A Writer

  1. Being a writer is a Real Good Thing.

    We can look at our life, look at someone else’s life and say to ourselves, “Self, why should it be that way?” We can twist ideas around and dream of better things or worse things; there is no real limit to our dreams.

    Then “all we have to do” is to make those dreams real to someone else — the readers. A dream alone is just that. It is a fleeting moment in the night which is forgotten in a day.

    We writers and dreamers help form the world. Many of our scientists felt the calling because of the writers in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. If we can affect maybe one or two readers to strive harder, set higher goals or take that chance on creating good (enhanced survival) changes, then we have done a Real Good Thing.

    No guts, no glory. We’re usually not after glory itself. That’s not a very worthwhile goal. On the other hand, most of us won’t turn down the glory if it does happens.

    As writers, we give ourselves the explicit license to create effects on others. Those effects can be “good” or “bad.” Lovecraft seems to create “bad” effects by creating the stuff of nightmares. Some readers love that, just as some people love the roller coasters. Is being scared to death “good” or “bad”?

    “Bless me, Father, for I am a Writer.”

    “My son, you are already blessed. You do not need me or God to do more. Go forth and sin bravely.”

  2. Viviennne Grainger

    What a lovely, poetic, and above all emotionally truthful post. It’s to be hoped that your wife will read it, and come to terms with her own obvious talent. A happy holiday to you both.

  3. Gail

    Loved the post and the image. Thanks to both of you!

  4. She IS an artist and DOES deserve the title. This is a profound post, and I appreciate these thoughts today. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you!

  5. All very true and thank you for putting the words on paper.
    I love your image credit, as well as the image itself. Your wife is a fine artist!

  6. Donna

    Laura, this is a terrific outcome of your craft. I love the way your perspective forces me to look through the eyes of the two figures and imagine what is beyond. I’d hang it by my computer as a reminder to keep looking, keep doing, keep writing.

    Donna

  7. nancy

    Every day as I succomb to my addiction, writing, I say to myself with some amount of guilt: but what good am I doing the world by sitting on my butt everyday? Who is fed? Who is healed? And then as a muse you bring me the answer: “God . . . loves nothing more than to see his children seek to understand.” Thank you.

  8. Larry, you are one romantic man, (go ahead, admit it). 🙂 I hope your wife has read this and allows herself the credit she deserves. That is one gorgeous painting! I imagine all her work is just as moving.

    Thank you so much for a wonderfully emotional post. You’ve made me appreciate my own work more than I did.

  9. “Beautiful” to Larry and Laura

  10. A perfectly inspirational read as NaNo winds down and I begin to doubt again why I write every day. Your reflections ring true, not the least being that rare but absolutely wonderful portrait of a marriage. May you have many years more of writing and loving.

  11. Was pointed in your direction via a Twitter. Loved this post, and now feel particularly inspired to keep on keeping on this morning. Back to writing…Thank you!

  12. This is so beautiful! I almost cried. I wish I had read this yesterday morning but I’m happy that I read it today! Thank you! 🙂

  13. Lovely post. This post should be dedicated to all the creative people who have been ever to this world!

    Thanks.

    -Anshul Gupta

  14. Bev Erickson

    I love to create through words, I love to photograph things already created, I love to paint what I see and imagine — and, I truly love to read your writing. Thanks for reminding me to be thankful for the gifts that fill my days with endless pleasure.

  15. I just wanted to say that your post was gorgeous. I’m proud to call myself a writer just for having read and identified with what you’ve said.

    p.s. Let you wife know the painting is beautiful as well.

  16. Marie Ohanesian Nardin

    I’m still nodding. Thank you.

  17. Amen and hallelujah.

  18. Monica

    Thank you, Larry, for this post. It strikes the heart in a unique way. Once again you give us fuel to push on, to the next word, the next page, the next story.

    Laura’s painting is wonderful. I hope one day she comes to see herself as the wonderful and talented artist she is.

  19. One of your best posts ever. And all I can say is Thank You, LB. You inspire me and give my fragile faith a boost.

  20. Marna

    Thank you for your always inspiring tips and advice – they just make so much sense to me. Also, hooray for supporting your wife’s creative efforts – all artists need to support and encourage each other. Thanks for putting that spirit of encouragement out into the world. Love, love her painting! Love this post!!

  21. Martha Miller

    Another great, inspiring essay that keeps me going.
    The painting is interesting and very beautiful, and I can just see both of you under the palms basking in the Arizona sun. Tell Laura she’s an artist in all our eyes.
    Thanks for once again validating the struggles we all go through as we try to earn the title or ‘writer’.

  22. Megan Sayer

    I just wanted to say THANKS to you…your plot-point/mid-point contextual shift etc series has just helped the whole story structure thing click in my brain; my synopsis is really strong for the first time. I am so grateful!

    And tell your wife her painting is simply gorgeous.

  23. Damn, Larry! Did anybody ever tell you or your wife that your wife should design book covers? Pictures like the one above could easily cover one of your books, or anybody’s book for that matter. Just a thought.

  24. Eugenia Parrish

    Larry: Thank you. I’d like to copy it and hang it by my desk.

    Bruce: “all we have to do” is make our dreams real to someone else. yes, yes, yes

  25. This is such a beautiful, inspiring post, Larry! I love it!! This says all the things that I think and believe about writing and being a writer. I’ve spent years of my life trying to “figure out my purpose.” But now I think it’s just like you said–Writing IS my purpose. And it’s a worthy one at that.

  26. Awesome encouragement, Larry. Thank you so much!

  27. Pingback: links for 2010-11-29

  28. That post brought tears to my eyes. I have been struggling with the thought of actually calling myself a writer for quite a while (even after your post I still can’t convince myself that I am indeed a writer). I needed that more than words can convey. This post was a comforting to me as a warm cozy sweater and a pair of fuzzy socks! Thank you so very much for writing the words my soul needed to hear.

  29. Pingback: Top 10 Storyfix Posts of 2010

  30. Jasmine

    Your writing is quick and smooth; a pleasure to read.

    Your words are life to the weary.

    Thank you.

  31. Pingback: 7 Habits the Pros Form - Tips For Treating Your Writing Like a Business