Monday, May 19, 2014

Why I Write



(Though I greatly enjoy the various themes and questionnaires that occasionally pepper the blogosphere, I rarely take part in them.   A holdover from adolescent rebellion perhaps, but whenever I agree to participate in something like that, I find my commitment soon undergoes a dark alchemy, taking on the personality of an “assignment”, the result being a procrastination that is both irritating and familiar.  However, when not one, but two, of my favourite blogging friends asked me to take part in a collective topic on writing, I felt I should comply.  Both Jeanne Henriques and Cait O’Connor are wonderful observers of the beauty of life and I would no doubt want to do whatever they asked of me.  However, I’m late with this posting and having read the instructions thoroughly only after I finished writing, I realize I flubbed them a bit.  But I hope they’ll forgive me and accept my little offering nonetheless.)

Why I Write 

For as long as I can remember, the written word has been as much a part of my life as food and drink, soap and water, earth and sky.  My Mother read to me every day and night which is an activity known to infect most children with the tendency to crave words for the rest of their lives.  It was, and remains, a bright fascination to me that the apparent simplicity of black words on a white page contains such revelatory and transformative power; power to call forth laughter or sobs, power to change a mind, power to bring back the dead.  

It wasn’t long until I realized I loved putting my own words down on paper.  Poems, long letters, little stories; I wrote these for many years.  But it wasn’t until about six years ago that I began writing on a regular basis and pushed open a door in my life, long open only a crack, to enter a colourful world full of delight and sorrow, future and past.  I have reveled in this world ever since.  Though it’s true that we often only see through a glass darkly, in writing I’ve discovered quiet, tiny clues to a greater understanding of myself and the world around me.  I have learned to better read between the lines of my own life.  As Flannery O’Connor so eloquently put it: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”  I now know precisely what she meant.

Writing for me is the net with which I catch all those microscopic moments that disappear in an instant; too seemingly insignificant to be captured and held for later, too ordinary to be remembered, but that, with a writer’s eye, contain more wisdom and beauty than a grand parade.  Virginia Woolf once said,  “I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond daily life”.  For myself, I think there are riches hidden inside daily life which need only to be  mined and held up to the light to reveal more magic than we can imagine.  Writing is how I mine those riches.

Writing is also how I harness memory.  The more I write, the more I remember.  It is perhaps no coincidence that my writing began in earnest the summer after my Father died.  As Eudora Welty said in her brilliant book, The Optimist’s Daughter, “Memory returned like Spring.... had the character of Spring.  In some cases, it was the old wood that did the blooming”.    The trees of my memory blossom anew each time I sit down to write and I find a  greater capacity of understanding and acceptance drifting down on my shoulders even as the words are written, and it is often the oldest memories that are the most prolific.

My process is not as disciplined as I would like.  I often watch The Songwriter head to his studio - coffee cup in hand, Apple at his heels - and marvel at his consistency.  I seem to store up ideas and thoughts until I overflow in a marathon of writing that results in a bleary-eyed, stumbling appearance that has been known to scare off the UPS man at one glance.  I do find however that the more I view my writing as a priority in my day, the more control I have over the ebb and flow of my inspiration.  It seems the muse can be tamed.  It’s something I’m working on.  

As to what I’m working on now.... as I type I am currently ensconced in a serene house in the marshes of South Carolina where I am writing away.  But it’s secret.  We’ll see what happens.  I promise, ... you’ll be the first to know!  Some of my earlier essays can be found in the book, From the House of Edward... you can find it HERE.  



Me and my writing partner on the marshes this week.

I know, now after I’ve written this, that I didn’t follow the instructions well.  I hope Jeanne and Cait will understand.  I also hope you’ll visit their blogs as well.  You’ll find wonderful writing there.  I would also recommend you visit Angus, Bob and Sophie  for daily observations of life as they live it in deepest France where great wisdom often masquerades as ordinary life.  It’s a daily read for me.  Then I would send you over to The Weaver of Grass for a beautiful account of daily life on a Yorkshire farm.  If you’re lucky, perhaps Pat will have posted a poem that day.  And on to Edinburgh to Cornflower Books, for stimulating discussions on the written word.  And back round to Dartmoor to visit Into The Hermitage, a world as unique and beautiful as its writer.  Enjoy!


Top photo:  Virginia Woolf's writing desk at Monk's House.
I was fortunate to have been there this week last year.
  


  

15 comments:

  1. So glad I dropped by.I so enjoyed hearing some of the details of Your witting experiences.Asking Myself if I can relate,and Yes I can :) it does put a little glimmer in My eye.

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  2. Perfect, perfect, perfect! Thank you Pamela, you have given me much to think about and I especially enjoyed reading this…

    "I do find however that the more I view my writing as a priority in my day, the more control I have over the ebb and flow of my inspiration. It seems the muse can be tamed."

    and

    As Flannery O’Connor so eloquently put it: “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” I get that too..

    I have made a few adjustments to the times I write, trying to do so everyday. I find when I am not writing in "post" mode that the words flow freely. I then go back and look at ideas to pull out for possible posts. Why it has taken me five years to figure it out is beyond me. Your words resonate…they always do.

    Thanks so much for participating Pamela. I love that you have suggested so many other writers. I always find the best company here…it is a pleasure.

    Enjoy your days by the sea..I love the photo. Write well and freely my friend..xxx

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  3. As a fellow writer I enjoyed your post today, and will visit some of the bloggers you mention; some are already my friends. I am glad you will soon share news of your secret writing project with us.

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  4. Thank you for that kind mention Pamela. This week my observations will be about Northumberland as we have been away to the
    North into that magnificent county with its huge National Park and its very sparse population. Like you I write really because I have to. My father loved poetry and read it to me long before I could understand it, but even when I was very young I could hear the resonance of the words - and that has stayed withj me.

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  5. How utterly beautiful your writing is!

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  6. Love the way you think, Pamela, and the way you express those thoughts. You have a wonderful relationship with words, with creating images and ideas - and they seem to flow so easily around you. Always a pleasure to read

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  7. Your imagery is so delightful. I particularly like the "harness memory" idea.

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  8. You are a BEAUTIFUL writer..............you can always be late!YOU ARE WORTH WAITING FOR!
    By the way I adore your shoes?Are they new?Will I find them in a shop near me?Do share please!
    XX

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  9. Dear Pamela, As ever a thoughtful and nuanced essay on the delights (and sometimes discomforts) of writing. You express so well how writing enriches and deepens our experience of life.
    All the writers you quote are amongst my favorites - writers who loved words and craft and thought.
    Very excited to know that you might be writing something new and exciting.
    Dear Cait suggested I write about writing too and it seemed too daunting. Now you have written such a super post, I feel inspired.
    Happy spring.

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  10. This is just gorgeous and so full. A gift with much for me to munch on which makes me especially happy that you wrote outside the rules!

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  11. I love the Flannery O'connor quote. I feel the same way. Thank you for sharing your beautiful writing with all of us!
    xx Sunday

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  12. I loved reading the reason why you write, always fascinating to know why folk are inspired to do what they do. I have found that putting down words, even in the small writings I do, mostly in my journal and as morning pages, and having to "think" in a different way has bought me to a much better understanding of myself too. The Flannery O’Connor quote says it all perfectly! I love that you call it "mining for riches". It is so much about capturing those small precious moments that would otherwise be missed. Beautiful piece, thank you x

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  13. Pamela: I needed to let you know that I have not received your blogs in quite some time. Yours is not the only blog that goes missing from my email......and it is not in my spam folder. ........other bloggers seem to have met the same situation. Has anyone else alerted you to this problem. I'm not sure how to remedy this. Angela Muller

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    1. I'm so sorry you're not receiving the blogs, though I'm not sure how to remedy that. I check with my feed and everything seems to be working properly. I do get them myself via email, and those have been coming through fine. Perhaps you might enter your email address once again and see if you start getting them. You can also follow me on bloglovin if you'd like.
      Here's hoping! xo, pamela

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I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!