The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true. – John Steinbeck
It was Steinbeck’s East of Eden that inspired me to pursue the craft of writing. A surprising motivator I know, since I don’t really “scream” Steinbeck. However, it was his deliberate way of writing and his extreme focus with themes and characters that drew me in. I have held many a discussion on Steinbeck, and I will continue to defend him to my grave as being one of the best writers, ever.
And so it is Steinbeck that has driven me back to this blog. Even though my writing is not the most important thing in the world, it is one of the most important things in my world. When I am not channeling all my suppressed internal energy into writing, I feel as if a part of myself is wasting away. And it is, I am rusty. I have writer’s block. Bad writer’s block.
My dad (or Mr. Green to you) told me once, in the midst of my complaining about this word/thought eating disease, to “just sit down and write.” Even at 27 I still believe he knows everything about everything, so I listened. My hope is through the endless amount of ramble some nugget of inspiration will be found, that eventually I will stumble upon greatness and the words will suddenly weave together to create a perfect web. In the least, it works my brain and keeps my writer’s heart beating.
This blog is both terrifying and exhilarating. I read so many WordPress posts that are witty, creative, profound and so unbelievably deep. Oh, how I wish I were one of you! I want my words read and chewed and remembered. I want my writing to be greater than who I am, because sometimes I feel very, very small.
“There’s more beauty in truth, even if it is dreadful beauty.” – John Steinbeck
Dreadful beauty. One reason I restrain from completely cutting open my writer’s vein is my concern for how readers will react. Will I offend? Will they disapprove? I have never enjoyed sugar-coating life, and dread when I hear others doing so. I like to chip away at layers of reservation, avoidance, perplexity, until I reach the raw emotions underneath. I want to connect.
Now, I do understand there are some who cannot handle this concept of “dreadful beauty.” They are easy to detect because you often see a fleeting look of panic cross their eyes when hearing how others are truly feeling. I don’t work this way, and have a hard time understanding the behavior without becoming frustrated. Maybe God created some people to handle the weight of the world and others to ignore it. Is balance necessary in this area of life? Maybe some completely lack the ability to empathize with others, or at least sympathize. There must be some explanation out there that goes beyond simple selfishness.
For my constant inquiring mind knowing the rough details helps me to better understand a person, or situation. I have always wanted the truth, even when it hurt. I cannot shy away from a person describing their chemo treatment, or their painful divorce, or the abuse they experienced as a child, or their heart aching loneliness. Because in that moment is when I get to see a real person. I am able to witness how they dig down deep, draw strength from God, and keep moving forward. Or sometimes, sometimes, I even have the privilege of speaking life to them, encouragement, giving a push if need be, even if it is only by listening, smiling, or laughing with them. I could never throw away a gift like that.
My favorite authors are those who tackle these messy life situations head on, exposing the ugliness along with the beauty. After all, how do we define Beauty if we do not know Ugly? I loved Cinderella as a girl, but I would never have rejoiced over her finding a prince if I had not first empathized with the suffering she endured. The Secret Garden was one of the first chapter books I read, yet, poor Mary became orphaned within the first 10 pages and extremely displaced for a good chunk of the story. Perhaps I am more a realist than I would like to admit.
I suppose this is my way of expressing to you, my readers, I may be writing more grit along with my usual banter. It may be I have finally mustered enough courage to explore the impossible task of “explaining the inexplicable.” (Steinbeck)
“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.” – Margaret Atwood
P.S. This is my 115th post!