opinions about life, work, and spirituality

On Writing – Amen!

February 2nd, 2009

A few days ago, I posted some of Anne Lamott’s words about writing. As I toil away at my full length play, Luddites!, here are some more thoughts about writing:

I’m so grateful to be able to write. I think it changes me, makes me a better human being; a more human human being! I learn from my writing. If I hadn’t written The Saddest Girl in the World, I wouldn’t know much about Kosovo, its war and current situation. I would be less attuned to the complexities of ethnic conflict, and less passionate about welcoming new immigrants to Canada. Now, with Luddites!, I am blessed to learn about the Industrial Revolution, about work and life in the early 1800’s in England. My point-of-view is being stretched, and my empathy nourished as I learn to empathize with a (lead) male character. I have the chance to work with my wonderful dramaturge, Kathy Parsons, which is invigorating and fun. I have the chance to hold readings, which are satisfying, communal and stimulating. I am richer for being a part of an artistic community.

I agree with Anne Lamott that writing is a reward in itself. The point is not publication, or in my case, production. The joy of writing; of entering into another realm and loving and caring for a group of characters, and of simply creating; that is what matters. That is the point. I admit, however (there had to be a however!), that I long to share my creation with more people. I am very happy to have the opportunity to share my work with Kathy, a group of actors and a few friends. It’s a chance many people in this world are never given. I am very grateful for what I have. And, I want to do for others what certain writers and playwrights do for me.

When I was a child, I played a game in which I held a large, gilded mirror in my arms as I walked through my house. I would gaze fixedly into the mirror and imagine that I was walking on the ceiling. I would jump over chandeliers, trace my foot around decorative ceiling plasters and stretch my little legs to step over room dividers. It was an exhilerating exercise; experiencing a new planet within the familiar. Reading a good book or listening to a great play is similar. I look into another world, in which my own self is reflected, but am caught up in another reality. This is what I want to do for others; provide a place to gaze deeply into another life, and find themselves reflected.

Right now I’m reading a novel entitled “Fox”, by Margaret Sweatman. It’s a short piece, set at the time of the Winnipeg General Strike. I’m sure there aren’t many copies of this book around. Probably very few people have heard of, seen, or read this novel. I’m not sure many critics paid attention to it. The thing is, I’m really enjoying it. I find it creative, poetic and compelling. I love entering into the world this author has created because it’s unique, attractive, and evocative.

Some authors and playwrights are famous. Half of these for good reason – their work evokes something in a lot of people, or is distinctly unique and highly creative. Some are famous for reasons of fluff. The media has latched on to some controversy or matter within their work (I’m thinking of one particular piece of clunky-worded bombasticness that soared to popularity in the talons of religious controversy), and the general population has followed. But for every famous author or playwright, there are more than a dozen like the author of “Fox” – whose works are wonderful, every bit worth reading or listening to. Their creators work steadfastly, with hardly any financial renumeration, for the divine joy of writing itself, and for the blessed opportunity to edify a few people’s lives. I know I am one of these artists.

I hope and pray that God will continue to grant me the creativity, time, passion, discipline and motivation to write. Should God bless me, after good work and perseverance, with the opportunity to share my work with more people, I pray I would be continually grateful for both the process and the “product”. Should it not be the case, I pray that God would help me to focus on the sheer joy writing gives me, the way in which it makes me more human, and the relationships I have garnered through the writing process so far. Amen!

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