â€œThe difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.â€
There are many reasons I should notÂ write. ItÂ is hard work and it takes a lot of my time. Â Closeted in my â€œwoman-caveâ€ bent over my computer, Â I become unavailable to friends and family, my exercise program crumbles, meals are hastily thrown together, my sleep is interrupted. Â And worse, I willinglyÂ put myself Â in the path of constant rejection.Â Â So why write?
I write because IÂ loveÂ to write and I love to read. Â I love everything about books: the covers that promise hours of enchantment, their heft in my hands, the sweetly musky smell. I love Â rows of
books stackedÂ neatly on bookshelves. Â I love rememberingÂ first book, its colorful pictures, Â the delight of Â learning to translate the symbols on the page into words that conjured fantasticalÂ thoughts, farawayÂ places, excitingÂ ideas. Â I find comfort inÂ bookshops and libraries. Â I love being surrounded by books and by people who love books.
I learned to love writing from my heroes; Â Mark Twain, Sylvia Plath, Wallace Stegner, Maya Angelou, Anias Nin, Jon Hassler, Amy Tan, Elizabeth Berg, Richard Russo, Barbara Kingsolver…and so many others. Â Their wordsÂ drewÂ me in, not moralizing,Â pridefulÂ words, but Â awkward stumbling words, Â anguished, hurtingÂ words that gave voice to my feelings. Â Thrilling words, words pulsing with danger. Angry words, hateful words. Â AndÂ wordsÂ pregnant withÂ joy, melodic with peace and love. I loved them all. Â Their words opened new worlds to me, Â urgedÂ me to revisit old ones,Â challenged my beliefs, made me laugh and sent tears streaming down my face; Â told me who I was and showed me who I wanted to be.
I love everything about the Â “Worddom”Â and I want to be a part of it. Â I want to provide a link in the wordchain to ourÂ children’s children and their children’ children. Â Â I want them toÂ know myÂ stories and myÂ truths.Â It is why Â I compulsively, painstakingly, rummage throughÂ dictionaries, thesauri and lexicons for thatÂ oneÂ word thatÂ compels the reader to feel the emotion, see theÂ landscape, love the character, believe in her. Â And once retrieved, it is why I must measureÂ its texture and its heft inÂ my mind, Â imagineÂ its hue, hearÂ its sound. Â It must tell the truth.
This kind of writing does not come easy for me. Â By nature, a curious soul,Â I am easily distracted byÂ Â theÂ Â “busy-ness” and business of writing; Â intimidated by the daily delugeÂ of blogs, posts and tweets, hawkingÂ eliteÂ and pricey workshops, conferences and retreats where I am sure toÂ optimize my platform and craft a best-seller. Â And Â above all, I am admonished to devote large blocks of time daily to write, regardless of how inappropriate, Â to write anything at all, no matter how nonsensical and vapid, Â in order to attainÂ my daily Â “word count”. Â Oddly, there is little in this daily digital tiradeÂ about theÂ art of reading or the craft of writing. Â IÂ wonder what Mark Twainâ€™sÂ Â reaction would be. Â Somehow I don’t see him worrying about his Twitter account.
But, this is the digital age, after all, Â and IÂ acknowledge its importance as well as theÂ need for marketing. Â I maintain a blog, a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Â I read blogs. Â I subscribe to writers magazines and attend a few workshops. Â All of this is helpful and entertaining. Â But Â I have decided to spend what time I have toÂ reading and word-smithing. Â Â IfÂ thisÂ brings my truth to the written page, and if my words touch theÂ hearts of a reader or two, it will be enough.