Instead of getting up to mark and plan in the summer, I like to get up and write. I join Kate Messner, Gae Polisner, Jo Knowles, Jennifer Vincent and their crew of guest authors who generously support us through the writing process at #TeachersWrite. They are infinitely inspiring!
On Sunday's post, guest author, Erika Perl, challenged us to "write a love letter to an inanimate object or an intangible concept." She gave us a beautiful example with her letter to fiction.
It was a very fun exercise, so for my Slice, here is my letter to writing itself!
You know, you remind me of the girl with the curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When you are good, you’re very, very good, but when you’re bad you’re horrid!
We were cottaging last week in rocky, tree-covered, wind-swept piece of paradise. Every day I would go out on the paddleboard. One day I decided to go around the island. I knew the side with the wind was going to be tough, but I knew the lee side would be easier, so I took the windy side first. I decided to slog it out and work hard in the beginning, so I could enjoy the ease I knew would come at the end, and, you, writing, were with me at every turn.
I measured my progress, on that windy side, by looking at the shore and tracking each tree, rock and, dock as I plodded past. I had to fight for every stroke. A break in the routine would mean I would lose ground. In this case, I was fighting the wind. With you, I fight my own mind. Some mornings I get up, not sure that what’s in my brain is even worthy to write down. I check the word count on the bottom of the screen to make sure I’m making progress. I say to myself, “Writers write.” Five hundred words a day, even simple, nonsensical words that will need revision, editing or even deletion are better than no words at all. I have to keep putting that paddle in the water.
Once I turned the corner, it was better, but at that end of the island, were huge rocks situated close to the surface. My mind drifted to whales; their bulk was so large and black. Hugely intimidating. I was afraid the fin of my SUP would hit the rocks, jolting me off my board. I imagined I was riding on the shoulders of giants, just like with writing. I read, read and read more. I read beautiful words, shining and perfect. Metaphors, meaning, and sensory descriptions seamlessly woven through a story with heart and meaning, and I need to remember these giants support me. Their purpose isn't to cause fear or jealousy. I can actually build my skills from them. I can observe how they embed memory, describe rooms, and integrate thoughts. They are my mentors and will support me endlessly. I love their stories and the story of their stories. I always read the acknowledgements noting the time and support authors needed and received to polish and carve their work, looking for clues, listening to interviews and reading their blogs. The journey into their stories is endlessly fascinating for me.
Finally, I hit that lee side, and I was right. It is worth it. The sun peeks out from the clouds. (Really, it did!) The water is calm and smooth. I can take the time to look at the beauty around me, and I recognize the joy of being. Of course, there is joy in writing or why would I do it. I love the surprise of a simile or metaphor that brings a scene to life, the connection to the object you wrote about before resolving a plot problem or a particularly adept metaphor that helps to clarify your character’s internal battle. There is joy in writing what you didn’t know you knew.
When I glide back onto the beach, I know why I write. I know I want to see, on the paper, the twists and turns of story and how my brain plays with it, spinning my experiences and observations. I know the slog is worth it, but I also know I’d better run and find my notebook quickly before all the thoughts that dance when I drive, bike, walk, run, cook, try to sleep or paddleboard drift away like a leaf floating on the water on a windy day!
Thank you, writing! You’ve brought so much to me, from the words of others, and now my words too!