If you can, I want you to do something for me. I want you to picture a young man standing at the front of a church. He stares with anticipation—you know that look. I know you do—at the opposite end of the church. His bride appears and we’ll just say on her left is her uncle, a somewhat stocky guy with gray hair and a clean shaven face. Do you see that smile on his face? I know you do.
Now, picture that same guy a couple years down the road. He and she have been married and now she is pregnant. Well, maybe she’s not pregnant anymore. Let’s say she’s given birth to their first child, a little girl with a head full of filament blond hair. Do you see the way his eyes twinkle as he holds her in his hands—his hands, mind you. Not his arms. She’s small and his love for her is instant. He gives her the very first kiss she ever received.
Fast-forward a couple more years. The man is older and there are now two little ones running round the house. He watches a football game and sits back in a recliner. He’s relaxed. Life is swell—yeah, I said swell.
The phone rings and he gets up to answer it. He gives a ‘hello’ and then what little bit of a smile was on his face is wiped away by the words from the other end of the line.
‘Uncle Lee had an accident…’
That man, now at the beginning stages of his forties, stands by a bed in a cold hospital room. His uncle lays before him, unconscious and never to waken from a head trauma induced coma. He swallows hard and he fights back tears for a man he had lost all good feelings for years earlier. But, wait. The man leans down and whispers into his uncle’s ear. ‘It’s okay, now. I forgive you. Now, let go. Just let go.’
Have you pictured all that?
Good, now close your eyes and picture it all again. Take your time; get the full gist of the image I want you to see. There is happiness. There is the anticipation. There is sadness and maybe even redemption in there.
Do you see it all?
Life has its impact on everyone. But for writers, life is an eternal study. There is the constant need to watch people as they go through their days and interact with others and see how they handle good times and bad ones and the pressures… oh the pressures that are thrown their way.
It’s those things about life that give breath to a writer’s stories, to the situations that form plots. It’s those people that we watch that give us our best characters and mannerisms and dialect. It’s life that gives our stories… well, life…
A writer’s mind never stops, even when it is sitting still. And I think that is why most writers struggle to sleep. But, on top of that forever moving mind, writing is an outlet that those who don’t do it do not have and most certainly do not understand.
For many of us—myself included–writing is our way of dealing with grief. We see something and it bothers us, but it also gives us an idea and sometimes we hate that these things give us those ideas. But, we can’t help it, and we write about those situations that are sometimes not so pleasant. It’s life, so please forgive us for writing about it.
When something happens in our lives and we don’t know what to do, what to say or even how to feel, we turn to our trusty keyboards—which is just about every writer’s best friend—and we jot our thoughts down. Sometimes those thoughts make sense to anyone who reads them. Other times, only the writer knows what it means and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. That’s a writer’s way of doing impressionistic art…
Many people say writers are hard to understand. I disagree. I think they are easy. Just ask them and most of them will tell you some long drawn out reason why they write. Some may even tell you the truth and say they do it for the money. For most of us the last laugh would be on us—there isn’t all that much money to go around for the average writers, like myself. Some of them will say they just enjoy it. There is a lot of truth in that.
But, there are those tortured souls… those people who must cut a vein and let it bleed onto the paper in order to pour their hearts into it… and the good writers do just that: pour their hearts into their work.
Do you know why we do what we do? We do it for you, the readers. We do it because—in a vain sort of way—we want you to like us and not just our work, but us, the people penning the stories. We wish to entertain you and there is no other field out there that draws more criticism than the field of entertainment. Maybe it’s a bit narcissistic of us, but we do it. We want to be seen. We want to be heard. In a sense, we’re exhibitionists.
And some of us tortured souls do it to cope with life. As I said before, sometimes it’s the only way we know how to handle grief. Sometimes it’s the only way we know to express our joy—our true joy. It’s our outlet. It’s our sanity. Without it, we would go nuts. Some would say I’m already owner of the funny farm…
I speak this from experience. Earlier, I asked you to picture a few things. They were pieces of my life. My wedding day. The day my daughter was born. The day I found out about my uncle—a man I had lost all positive feelings for years ago—slipped on ice and struck his head on concrete.
We all write for our own reasons, but for most of us, it’s for you, the readers. And if we’ve touched even one of you with our words, then that’s a success story if I ever heard of one…
Be sure to read more by AJ at Type AJ Negative