Writer (repost from 2005)

“Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid,” by Jan Vermeer

She withdrew into herself,
First writing just for one,
Then touching thousands.
She incarnated ghosts, hurt, and joy
Into paper-and-ink stories of wonder.

One author said, “I can get rid of anything by writing about it,” meaning that the process of externalization could liberate him from the pain in his soul. That realization produced a delicious dichotomy; to free himself: or to hold on to both joys and tortures by remaining silent about them.

Writers write because they must: They need to express something from deep within themselves. They hear voices that others do not. They listen urgently, and they must communicate what they hear.

People feel Tao in the same way that writers feel something unique. In the process of listening for mysterious voices and expressing the wonder that comes is a magic akin to the perfection of Tao.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all. — Lord Byron

“I started with all the handicaps, incapabilities and helplessness. I didn’t talk when I was twenty. I taught myself by the act of writing.” –Anais Nin

“Writing, like life itself, is a voyage of discovery. The adventure is a metaphysical one;
it is a way of approaching life indirectly, of acquiring a total rather than a partial view of the universe. The writer lives between the upper and lower worlds: he takes the path in order eventually to become that path himself.” — Henry Miller

Most people are separated from writing about the things they really feel deeply or even sometimes from knowing they feel those things at all. We live in a very shallow sort of society where we are rather actively discouraged from thinking about anything too deeply or expressing our inner thoughts and emotions, and most people come to internalize this and guard their own thoughts from any depth of feeling.

Yet we admire writers who are able to make us feel, and end up caring more at times about fictional characters than those in our own lives. Why? Because we see the depth of feeling displayed in those characters, while those in our own lives are trained not to show their own depths.

A lot of writers write because they can’t express these things in their own lives, so they create fictional characters where they can share their thoughts and feelings.

Tao is about a deep connection with the process of life itself. Once you experience that, you find it everywhere, in everything. It isn’t possible to be separated from it, although some days the feeling is certainly deeper than other days.

I’ve written for a long time for myself. I would like to write for others as well.


3 Responses

  1. I need to get a hat like that. I’m thinking if I wrote wearing it in a very public place, I’d be less self self-conscious and able to get out what’s inside without the sub-conscious filter that worry over what others will think of you, and your writing, brings about. I get butterflies every single time I post or even comment as I’m sure that it will be the post that convinces everyone what an idiot I really am!

  2. Each day that I pull up your wonderful words I feel like we are walking the same path. Granted, I’m here, you’re there…but it is through your writing that the connection is made. Today, you have really touched on something. I have stopped being in groups where I just can’t seem to get comfortable with the “banter”…and it has given me the reputation of being anti-social. Why? Because I really find nothing interesting in who is seeing who or where they will be vacationing next, etc. If I bring up a world problem or a political matter, perhaps trying to get folks interested in writing our senators to encourage a bill that needs passing, I get readily dismissed. I think people are just plain afraid of really talking. It takes no courage to “small talk”. I’ve just gotten really sick of it.

  3. Yes, Nickie, I understand that feeling. I lost one of my dear friends when I called her on her gossiping, sadly only after it became personal because she was gossiping about me. Now I only wish I had called her on it sooner, although it might have ended our friendship earlier. Funny that I was the one person she could talk to about serious matters and problems, since she knew I wouldn’t share her problems with others.

    People are afraid of really connecting at a deeper level with other people. Instead they turn to movies or television or books for deeper thought, and those become more real to them than life itself. My friend was very involved, still is, in a book discussion group. I think it was the only place she allowed herself to think more deeply.

    I think the key with people is to look for “teachable moments”, as they call them in the parenting books – those times when people are receptive to deeper ideas. Sometimes it is just planting the seed for something that comes to fruition later.

    Most people can tune in easily to the superficial things, so it’s a comfortable level of conversation for them. If you are tuned in to deeper things, it becomes uncomfortable to always walk in the shallow water when you would rather be swimming. But not everyone is a good swimmer, so they wade and chatter. Or, as a friend used to put it, “a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet”, which I think he got from National Lampoon’s Deteriorata.

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