I was working on a short essay earlier today about attending Orioles games as a child with my father at the old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. Near the end of the essay, I wrote:
The silence we shared as we sat in the stands, two fans side by side as the orioles played, made me grateful and longing at the same time for what we did and did not share. I find that, even now with my own son, I panic when silence comes, fearing that he, too, will grow up longing for that experience that reached beyond the shared physical space of two creaking seats on the third base line.
These feelings of belonging, of desiring a close, meaningful relationship with my father, resonate in much of my writing today. It doesn’t surprise me, really. Such memories, such powerful experiences, are a part of who we become. As artists, it is only natural that it would be expressed in our work in some fashion.
I am fascinated with what lies behind the words of writers. We are all filled with memories, experiences, and exposures that contribute to our offerings — whether they be in the form of spoken or written words, gestures, or creations.
So, as I get older, I begin to better understand the depth of each human being that chooses to create, to write: the incidents and experiences, combined with unique personalities, concoct a most interesting and unique cocktail, a one-of-a-kind elixir poured on to the pages of literary magazines and between the covers of longer works, deemed delicious by editors, agents, and publishers as they stand watch at the literary gates.
Sometimes, those elixirs are too bitter or too bland for the likes of some agents and editors, so they stay on the shelves, a stagnant staleness lying in wait, until that shelf life expires, and they are no longer deemed consumable for the masses.
What does the writer do? Compromise the concoction? Tweak the brew and lose the voice that gives it its twang, its spicy kick, its overdue aftertaste that leaves the reader dry-mouthed, looking for more?
If the writer is true, the work will stand on its own long after the pen has expired. It will survive the taste-testers, lying low in dormancy among the basement dwellings – to be discovered by connoisseurs who understand the ageless flavor of the author’s authentic words.
It’s all we can hope for, those who write from within – and not merely to the masses – the words that capture a life of experiences melded with the passions of a singular personality.
5 thoughts on “A Writer Writes: What Lies Behind The Words?”
Enjoyed reading. Especially, appreciate paragraph 5. It’s a ‘take it to the classroom’ sort of paragraph for me. I hope to write it in the front of my binder, where it’ll be in great company with reminders from Parker Palmer, Anne lamott, Julia Cameron and more.
It’s definitely a unique publishing world where writing what one’s love (even if it’s not marketable) may not be “good enough”. And yet, as you stated, do we compromise to make it palatable?
Maybe we just write because it makes us happy to do so.
No way to edit what I just posted– “writing what one loves” not “one’s love”. Sigh. LOL Maybe this “one” shouldn’t attempt to write at all! 😉
As usual Rus, I enjoy reading what you pour out on the page for us to read. As I read your words, it takes me back to the silence between my father and I when I went out on the boat with crabbing or fishing. Ahh the silence. What indeed does it mean? Thank you for the memories your writing stirs up in me. You truly are talented my friend. I look forward to your next entry in life.
This was a very nice post…short, sweet, to the point…yet deep. Not only do we write with a pen forged by the memories we hold, but also by the events we currently experience. I find that if I’m angry or upset about something, my writing is more volatile—different word choices, patience level—and it shows.