Today, I’m thinking about this craft of writing that has claimed me since I was two years old and first learned to connect words on the page to the words in my mouth to the words in my ears.
Today, I’m feeling into my deep love for writers, and for the community and lineage, craft and service of writing.
There’s a camaraderie among writers that I suspect is shared by other artists: dancers, theatre folk, painters, photographers, chefs, musicians — makers of beauty, seekers after truth. Even with the endless competition for increasingly shrinking publication spaces, I feel instantly at home among a group of writers because we are all devotees and acolytes of the same craft. Writers are among the most generous people I know.
We approach our craft with playful devotion, with dread, uncertainty and confusion, with indescribable joy, with clenched jaws and vulnerable, willing hearts. We love and hate our craft, often simultaneously, or at least within the space of a single hour.
We understand, viscerally, the need to be left alone with our work. And we welcome each other when we emerge, bleary-eyed from our notebooks and computers, because we know how hard and intransigent the writing life can be.
When we aren’t writing, or living the experiences we write about, we commiserate or celebrate together for brief moments, cherishing the solidarity of intelligent minds, of true hearts.
We are part of a lineage of writers and writing that extends back to the earliest cuneiform script developed in Mesopotamia around 3500 BC. Earlier, even, when our ancestors scratched images onto cave walls to tell the stories of their everyday lives.
Every culture weaves stories. About who we are, where we come from, why we’re here, how life on this earth unfolds, how we relate to each other and to the world around us, what we dream of, love, loathe, fear, long for.
All writers share in this lineage of story making, including those of us who write from the borderlands of many intersecting realities.
Interesting writing meanders along the frontier between a world in which Keith Richards is chasing your protagonist down fluorescent-lit hospital halls in surgeon’s scrubs while wielding a deadly blowfish in one mottled, disintegrating hand — and a love of the craft of writing that has you rewriting draft after draft until the scene is so intelligently, vividly and convincingly rendered that your readers will be running down that hospital hall with their hearts beating out of their chests without ever leaving their living room.
We writers belong to a tradition and a community that consists of an essential diversity of voices, revealing worlds both imaginal and real enough so we can hear the huff of their breath in our ears.
No matter how different the traditions that have formed us — classical, oral, post-modern, experimental, among many others — what unites us is a tender and profound love of words, and the truths they reveal; the knowledge that words are powerful, sacred; that books can make us cry, laugh, think, feel, and act to fulfill the promise of our humanity.
Writers, you are my loves. Thank you, and welcome to the neighbourhood!