You ‘ARE’ a Writer
I was asked this two-part question by a wise young lady at one of my High School talks: “What defines a writer, and why do ‘you’ write?” I looked at her, thanked her for the questions, and replied: “You are a writer.” I looked around the room to the others present and added: “Each and every one of you are writers, as well, each and every one of you write for the same reason I do.” They all gave me this ‘you’re crazy’ expression on their faces. I smiled and continued.
Our sentient self resides within that brain of ours we carry about in our head. It’s the computer that continually sucks in the information around us, digests and analyzes it, and spits out results in the form of thoughts and emotions, including; love, anger, happiness, dismay, sadness, passion, and on and on. Each of us ‘writes’ the data into all those trillions of neurons up there—we call it memory.
It doesn’t stop there. Those gigabytes of data stored are often brought to the forefront and our computer reanalyzes them, sometimes over and over again, and additional ‘new’ data is stored away. We get angry—stored, we love—stored, we cry because we lost someone close to us—stored, we feel guilty because we want something we don’t know if we deserve—stored, we apologize for something—stored, we forgive—stored, we express our deepest feelings to someone—stored, we worry about what they think—stored, and on and on, continually ‘writing’ to our data-bank brain.
This never stops. Right now, as you read this, you are analyzing what I say. You’re thinking: he’s right; that’s nuts; no way; yes, I guess I do do that; or, that’s ridiculous. You’re storing the thought. And when you’re done reading this (if you finish) you may or may not analyze further and understand the underlying theme of this essay.
So where am I going with this—what is the underlying theme? Simple. There is only one difference between a person called a “writer” and you. That gal or guy “writer” does one thing you don’t do—document. Both “write,” but one writes the thought only to memory, while the other writes to memory AND documents it in the written word. Presto—that is the only difference between you and me. I merely take the time and effort to put my ‘thoughts,’ as deficient, right, or wrong as they may be, on paper.
So “why” do I? I can’t answer that for certain. Perhaps it is partly because of my love of teaching. The most rewarding few years of my life were when I taught 7th through 12th grade at Northwestern High School in that wondrous little town of Mendon Missouri. I fell deeply in love with the town, the school, and every student I had the honor of teaching. Those kids made me feel of “value” because I was teaching them something, and not just facts. In turn, those kids taught ME a great deal–an equal exchange. In my professional career as a scientist and consultant, I documented my thoughts all the time in various papers, manuscripts, and publications. I wrote my first novel because I had a story to tell, not to publish, but just to write it down. Only because my wife said it was a truly wonderful story that needed to be out there did I attempt to find a publisher.
I write essays because something triggers my psyche and I just need to decipher the thought by putting it down on paper. I write my novels because I have a story I need to live out in fantasy/fiction. Obviously not everyone documents what they think about, but just maybe putting my thoughts and emotions on paper could be similar to someone else’s, and by reading my words, they may come to clarity about their feelings. Heaven’s, I don’t really know why I write—I just do. Call it a hobby, need, passion—doesn’t matter. I love reading, and I love writing. I so enjoy putting myself in the shoes of another author or the characters in their novels, for in doing so I learn more about me. Well hey! There’s another GOOD reason why I write—learning more about how “I” feel about whatever subject I’m writing. In “writing” about what you feel, you take time to analyze those feelings, you don’t just think for a moment and store away, you decipher your emotions and clarify and amplify them—you document ‘you’.
So, yes, you are indeed a writer, even it you write only to memory. Just know, if you want to learn as much as you can about how you feel and what something truly means to you, ‘write’ about it in words on paper. You won’t believe, until you experience it, how much you will ‘learn’ about ‘you.’ Whether it be a journal, diary, memoir, essay, poem, short story, novel, or merely thoughts on paper, you will indeed venture deeper into the person you are. You will realize and understand heretofore hidden emotions, passions, and feelings belonging exclusively to that sentient self residing in your mind. You will become a closer friend to that person, for the empathy will be real, clear, and more vivid than a mere thought written only to a memory. You may find a friend you didn’t know you have. Try it, won’t you? tj