From February 3 to 13, I was deeply immersed in the writing process with a group of very engaged and skilled writers. As with most of the retreats I organize, Sue Reynolds led the daily workshops. To warm us up on the first day of writing she asked us to simply write a piece on why we write.
The following is what I had to say about that:
In all the ways I’m able, I want to give voice to her – the wounded child, the warrior, the cowering one, the starving one, the one who couldn’t say no, and the one who did.
One woman in this group wrote of the challenges of speech versus the ease of writing. That! I thought, exactly. I write better than I speak. Metaphor, simile – the smell of warm butter, the burn of a stepped-on bee like the shock of a mother’s cigarette – these things; these are the things that evoke what matters.
In a recent workshop, Ellen Bass shared that scientists have discovered that the place in the parietal lobe which lights up at tactile sensation also lights up with a metaphor about touch, but doesn’t light up when the metaphor is explained. That.
If I tell you what happened, neither you nor I will light up. I will have to write it for both of us.
I write because I am sorry. I’m sorry for talking when I could have been listening, for not understanding that I have been loved. My words are an apology, an explanation, and a hope. I write because I ache and long, but I also write because it’s the best way I have to express the bounty of embodiment. By that I mean that I really like having a body, how it registers and responds to pleasure, discomfort, hunger; how it has this remarkable capacity to heal; I love its fragility and its tenacity. It isn’t just a vehicle or a container, but see? If I write a story about a woman who has these deep experiences then you could not only understand, but relate; recognize these things in your own body. And I might understand better as well. I might be able to pour out that which threatens at every turn to spill out and stain what is valued.
I’m here. And words come that would sound silly or contrived if I simply spoke them. Such as: Oh, the waves are muscular and purposeful this morning. How’s your coffee? or: In my belly grows a cactus, full of juice but without roots. Come drink, but be cautious.
Why do I write? Because I want you to see me and to love me. But don’t worry, that’s at the bottom of the list.
I fill and am full and then it’s too much and I have to write.
Also, I write just because.
To read Sue’s lovely post about the Costa Rica retreat, go to: http://www.goforwords.com/goforwords/begin-again/