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Why I Write

I’m currently working on a “Coffee with the Poets” interview with a dear friend, Frances McColl Stewart. She asks wonderful questions in return, but with the interview being about her, not the interviewer, I cannot really answer – but they are wonderful questions that get me thinking.

What synchronicity it was when she asked, “Is that why we write?” and “Is what we call ‘conscience’ a Truth-ometer?” (To put it into context, I’ll quote from our forthcoming interview):

“’Sea of humanity’ seemed to be in all that I read at one point. Suddenly, I saw it – we are each an iceberg. We see the 1/10th of each other that is above water and we all are so different, but beneath the water, we are melting and freezing and exchanging the ‘oneness’. Is that why we write? To remember Truth? Do we actually forget truth? Is it absorbed into us? When we hear or read Truth, isn’t it more a recognition than a new thought? Is what we call ‘conscience’ a Truth-ometer?”

I’ve been asking myself in earnest “why I write” for some time now, and have only of recent concluded that I write for myself, except in the case of love poems and other dedications. I write about my world, I write to bury my head in something beautiful about a given moment.

I had to ask myself why I publish my words in books that so few will read. Well, that head-burying: I put it in books because my conscience isn’t happy about my spending valuable time with my head facing a screen and my hands on the keyboard (or a tad more acceptable, sitting with a notebook and pen), so pressing my words in a book says to me, See? Something came of it! But there is little difference between this and going shopping with $50 in hand and insisting on coming home with $50 worth of merchandise to justify the day out. So I’m at a point where I question whether future books are sensible, or hollow justification for time spent (wasted?), or ego (convincing myself that I am worthy of keeping company with my extraordinary and creative peers – “earning my place”).

I’m also guilty of having written at times for an imaginary audience, because I know that I’ll put my words into a book. I see it in my mind and catch myself writing to nobody in particular, like right now, like how so many people mindlessly post “status updates” on Facebook. (They don’t necessarily know who they are talking to; they are simply talking.) Is this just another mechanical habit, compulsive finger-activity that feels good because it validates thoughts? Why don’t I simply journal if I need to, and why does my conscience activate itself when I write? Well, if the conscience is a “Truth-ometer” as Fran suggests (it makes sense to me), then I am supposed to be doing something else with my time. I am supposed to give my time to others. Yet here I am this very minute, writing. It’s not poetry, but I’m pouring mental clutter out of myself. Words are a form of release.

So, writing as escapism and self-therapy, and books as justification…a sad truth to admit, except that I focus on beauty when I write poems, so some of my happiest moments land in books. See? Life isn’t so ugly after all, I say to myself, holding my own books which showcase some of the beautiful moments of my life, the life that slips away while I spend time immortalizing what butterflies I catch.



Christina Finlayson Taylor is the author of three books of poems (available at Amazon).

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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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The Importance of Separating the Writer from the Writing

It’s very difficult to judge what we love, and our own writing is no exception. It’s why we who write need to pull away from our words for weeks, maybe months, minimally, to detach from them. We need to give ourselves time to forget what we wrote.

How often do we notice that our new favorite poems are consistently our most recent poems? But as we look back, a few “perennials” stand out from the rest. Those are the true keepers. We need to pull away long enough to recognize the perennials as those that spring back to life with every read. As for the rest, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves once in a while, and keep them (if we must take clingy hoarding to an ephemeral level) in documents with titles such as “Analects 1,” “Analects 2” and “Analects 3” – and do your best, then, to not look back unless you’re feeling nostalgic or all dried up.

In earlier 2018, I published a small collection of poems written within the previous autumn and winter. Originally it was to be a year’s worth of poems, but I thought, what if I were to die soon, before I would complete spring and summer? My husband and I have a practice of living for today, not looking ahead much, considering that this day might be all we have. So I decided to break the year into two books, to publish the first half now, if not sooner.

What happened, then, was that the second book became an assignment, and I grew disappointed in myself for not slowing down, for not giving it time to sit – not in my hands, re-reading and re-reading without giving the word-attachments time to detach.

I write these words today simply to remind people of the importance of slowing down: patience and trust. When we are enthusiastic, we get impatient, and when our words are brand new, we are enthusiastic about them. We only need to trust in the future, to trust that we will most likely still be here tomorrow and the next day, and to trust someone else with our babies, our documents of fading annuals and resilient perennials, just in case.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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