Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Writing begins with a feeling, an urge that you have something within you that wants saying.

You might just start speaking out loud, if there were anyone near to listen, or you could even talk to yourself—a soliloquy.

But let’s say you’re alone when this loquacious urge befalls you, and you want to find out more exactly what’s on your mind that seems urgent to emerge in coherent language, in sequences of sentences, maybe even paragraphs. After all, as the legendary “Little Old Lady” once said, “How do I know what I think till I see what I say?”

So you find a comfortable place to sit, you take up a pad and pen, and you start writing. Or maybe, more modernly, you sit down with your laptop and open a new Word document and begin typing. Myself, I still prefer the quieter, gentler, cozier way of sitting with a pad and pen, handwriting and crossing things out (that may be reinstated later). The pleasurable physicality of shaping letters and words manually gives a craftsmanlike and sensuous pleasure to the process, which is quiet, non-electric, and contemplative, as I chew on the cap of my pen.

The great appeal and reward of this procedure is that, once started, words begin to flow prompting new thoughts and more words, sentences and paragraphs. Whatever that initial urge was seems like a package delivered to your doorstep that you’re now unwrapping and bringing its hidden contents to light.

“Something” inchoate in you wanted to get out and get visible and audible and well formed—so that first you would know more clearly and fully what it was, and then others could apprehend it too.

But unless you had initially seized the occasion and provided the means for your vague notion’s elaborated formulation into articulated and expatiated language, you’d have only the acorn but not the oak. But your notion’s now in motion, and it’s shaping up like a lump of clay on a potter’s wheel becoming, you hope, a well-wrought urn.

What a surprise! Who would have thought what was lurking within, looking to be birthed.