Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Were I to write a book on writing, I think the title of this essay would be that book’s title, so let me try out my idea here.

The writing I most like to do myself, I do for the fun of it, whether in prose or verse.

When I sit down with a pad and pen and open myself to the Muse of writing, like sitting on the lakeshore with a baited line in the water, I’m eager to find out what comes up to write about. It’s delighted anticipation that draws me here, and it’s the enlightenment of discovery that gratifies my coming.

Other kinds of writing can be work and onerous, I admit: that which is compelled and uninteresting and impersonal. But it’s playful writing I mean here, writing that excites the play of mind and imagination, creative writing, even when it’s not fictitious—though it’s still “made up.”

Fun writing allows you to make up your mind in presentable and attractive forms beyond the capacity of spontaneous speech, no matter how fluent and engaging a speaker you may be.

To write like this is to enjoy shaping and reshaping your words so as to express and capture ideas when they emerge from wherever it is that thoughts arise in your consciousness. You have the leisure to listen for subliminal language and draw it to the surface and land it on the page under your pen. Then you can alter it, refine and polish it, as you cannot do with the gush of speech, which comes haphazardly for all but the most practiced orators.

The fun is the discovery you make. You take the lid off your head and look in to find the makings of new ideas that only language can invent, language induced by the contemplative act of writing and rewriting into formal compositions with beginnings, middles and ends.

And when you’re done, it stays. You have it down in writing, not dispersed in the air like talk. Then you can share it endlessly with others, and that too is fun.