Monday, February 1, 2010

Writing that's Quotable...what makes a writer a writer?

February 1, 2010

Writing that’s Quotable

It’s the beginning of a new month and I happen to think February is one of those months of promise and, as such, a great one to begin with a bit of reflection. I don’t know about you, but when I hear people say they want to be a writer I often ponder that whole concept of wanting something and being something. What is the difference, anyway?

When I was four years old I remember practicing my letters, with my brother acting as the headmaster, when we convened our semi-weekly lessons in the rickety fort that resided in our backyard, serving as our one-room schoolhouse. At that time I was an emerging lefty, but as was the silly custom in public education during the sixties, I was retrained to conform and I emerged from my elementary school a right-handed writer. The irony would be that I was a right-brained thinker who really would have appreciated being accepted as a left-handed writer.

Even during those early years I was happiest writing, expressing my thoughts, engaging in word play, and shifting syllables to my heart’s content. It wasn’t until well after I had graduated college and I was almost thirty years old that I was rendered too insecure in my literary aspirations to claim myself as a writer. Somehow I felt that others needed to believe I was a writer and then, once I had the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping stamp of approval, I, too, could claim “writer” as part of my identity.

A whole lot of thinking, living and writing has ensued in the years subsequent to my formation of those first letters and I now realize that these types of conundrums are really like “The Wizard of Oz” and the requisite, often metaphorical, trip to the land “up and over.” I always have been a writer. I just needed to acknowledge the classification and claim it for myself.

When I was watching “60 Minutes” last night (hang with me, this will tie in) they aired a compelling interview with Beyoncé, who is an extremely motivated, likable, intelligent young woman. She was talking about all of the things she loves to do, all the things that inspire her, which include dancing, singing, and designing clothes, but it’s the singing that defines her. She IS singing. For me, I AM writing. Writing is how I make sense of the world and writing is not just what I do, what I want to be, but it is as much a part of me as that funny little scar I got when I decided to pick-up a piece of window glass knuckles first.

Perhaps you can relate to all of this, whether your passion, your defining purpose, your call to action is running an animal sanctuary, acting in plays, singing arias or any number of pursuits that make it all worthwhile. Please do remember that you have everything you need already to make your “thing” happen. If you’re looking for the seal of approval, consider it bestowed upon you now.

Since I’m that writer-type I’ve gone ahead and chosen 10 quotes about writing that are alternately amusing, inspiring and thought-provoking…just because. Maybe they’re write for you!

1. Writing is both mask and unveiling. ~E.B. White

2. You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

3. A word is not the same with one writer as with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket. ~Charles Peguy

4. And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath

5. I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all. ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

6. I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

7. If there's a book you really want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it. ~Toni Morrison

8. What I like in a good author is not what he says, but what he whispers. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, "All Trivia," Afterthoughts, 1931

9. The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. ~Norbet Platt

10. It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West

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