One of the ways that I most regularly express myself is through writing. Writing, I find, is safe. Writing affords me time. Writing gives me space.
But, I’m not a writer. I’m someone who writes.
I don’t write stories, making up interesting characters and complex worlds for them to inhabit. I don’t retell the trials of others in informative or interesting ways. I don’t even write researched essays to help others learn.
When I write, I’m looking for my voice. Writing, for me, is a way to express the thoughts that circle through my brain, giving them a different avenue to travel down. As they travel, they carve out boulevards and highways in the cul-de-sac that is my mind.
I’ve been writing like this for at least twenty years. It’s got to be close to that. About a year ago, I brought back some of my old journals that were sitting on my bookshelf at my parents’ place. Since then, they’ve been sitting on my newest bookshelf, unread.
Having them closer to me makes me feel better, somehow. There’s just something nice about having the recorded thoughts of my thirteen-year old self bound and stored next to unread books.
I have thousands of dollars worth of fountain pens in a shoe box sitting on a shelf. I have expensive paper filling several binders, and even more unused pads of paper just laying around. I have a wax seal in the shape of the letter “A” that I bought in Finland. I have a typewriter, two computers, an iPad, and even a blog, to record, in writing, some of the things that cross my mind. Add to all of this the pen that is tattooed on my right forearm.
But why writing? Why does writing resonate so well with me?
I’m not a big reader. In fact, it’s a bit of a struggle for me to read. I enjoy it but I certainly don’t make time for it, try as I might.
Every morning, I sit down to write my Morning Pages. Then, again, at night, I sit down to record my thoughts on the day. Too often, the things I write are mirrored on the pages separated by a short, unfulfilling sleep.
My penmanship, if we can call it that, is terrible. There are only a handful of people who can decipher the scribbles I put on a page. I’m often questioning my own notes. My chicken scratch is, at best, that of a newly hatched chick trying to write a manifesto in a crowded barn, lorded over by boisterous pigs.
But, I can type quite well. The last time I went for an interview with a recruiting agency, I clocked in at 68 words per minute. Not bad. And, by the way, the recruiter was no less than impressed with the results of my spelling test.
Since I was young, writing has been available to me. As soon as I learned how to hold a pencil properly, writing gripped me. No matter where I was in life, physically, emotionally, or mentally, I could always write. All I needed was a pen and a piece of paper. Everything I scratched onto that piece of paper was okay. It didn’t need to be right or even make sense. It didn’t ever need to be anything more than it was.
Now, some twenty years later, the same holds true. My vocabulary is slightly better now, in exchange for my penmanship, allowing me to express myself differently, perhaps more succinctly. But, for the most part, the thoughts remain the same.
It doesn’t really matter to me how many times I write about the same things. The joy in writing comes from the writing itself. Drawing ink from a bottle into a converter, through the nib, and then using that same nib to transfer meaningful lines onto a page is just a beautiful thing. Whatever story, or semblance of one, is revealed is a bonus.
On a blank page, I create my own space. I create a world that is entirely mine. I am the master of all that unfolds. Bounded only by the edges of a sheet of A4 paper, I can do whatever I like.
Nowhere else in the world can I be as free as I am when I write.