Men, Prayer, Politics, Horses, Detroit
Someone asked me today if I was a writer. With a moment of hesitation, as a child caught in a white lie, I answered quietly, “yes.” I was in a small bookstore in a corner converted bungalow in old South Tampa, Florida.
So I was standing there, trying my now affirmed identity as a writer on for size, much like the unexpected gift of an extra coat on a day turned chilly. I was purchasing Alfred Kazin’s ‘Writing was Everything’, seeking the camaraderie of hearing my fellow writers insights and experiences, hoping to find answers. The question I am trying to calmly confront is this: is writing simply an insanity embedded in recesses of the mind and finally bursting through thin moments in my veiled sanity? Or, is this process simply what writing is?
Journal entry, South Tampa, Fla. 1996
Frightened by the inner voice, my own inner voice, I did not understand the creative process, nor the workings of the muse when I first began to write with the notion that the endeavor might be worthwhile. For a young writer, the early internal quaking from whence the writing of some flows, renders a feeling of helplessness upon us, a feeling of one possessed by some unknown entity. It is very difficult to comprehend the nature of its presence at first: friend or foe? To be trusted or not? The words, the tactile nature of this force erupting into my consciousness sent me into a reclusive silence as I fought to comprehend what was happening. I knew I was within the conventional range of the sane, yet to write with purity during the those early months felt as if something in me was pushing, pushing past ‘known’. Over time I have learned that many writers experience this: a darting of the mind out into a sort of deep space with no tether back to the mothership to be found. It is often out here that we write. This muse demanded that I let go, that I settle into it’s quiet, that I set aside my reactive emotion and let it come through in it’s clear and methodic demand upon my mind.
It has taken me years to own my voice as a writer, to cast insecurities aside, to relinquish control, to trust and let the muse run the course; years to not stand on the brakes when my mind takes me into new, shaky and frightening terrain but rather, to gently slow down and follow the thread, let it unfold, allowing it to untangle and fall into prose. Now, it comes easily as the fear is gone. There are things I do not think about, such as audience, cadence, grammar, punctuation, etc. All of that is peripheral dung, excuses to delay for those caught up in how to write from the outside in rather than from the inside out.
What is most important is that it moves, that it become whole and is cast out. Cast out to reach, to touch, to teach, to bear, to rest. It must carry itself with a fluidity along the line, ebbing and flowing across the page with full body, letting the weight of each word strike perfectly in relation to its neighbors, sinking into the solar plexus of the reader with tenacity. A well-crafted sentence is not in my mind a thing of technical linguistic perfection but rather the result of words forming a feeling akin to perfectly placed brush strokes, each word chosen for its ‘weight’ and ability to balance and carry, the tones and hues of language, each connecting to the other forming one fluid line that as a whole seems to breath all on its own. There is a musical perfection to a well written passage, almost a mathematical beauty to its intricate simplicity, one in which the reader feels as if he must pause, letting it rest upon his minds eye for one moment more. When I write it is often as if the passage is in three demensions, as if sculpted to stand alone, viewed from all sides. This is when I know I am writing with a fullness that I must not inhibit.
The comfort lay at sentence end, knowing the muse will come again, yet who is to know where, or when. To write is to trust, to let go and step aside, to allow oneself to be a conduit for a force we must accept, with the deepest of humility, as a mystery. The Writers Prayer.
© 2012, 2013 Nancy Kotting All Rights Reserved Reproduction by Permission Only