I’m sitting on my back porch, cigarette in hand, wisps of tobacco induced smoke rising above me and off into the North Carolina sky. I feel the heat of my laptop on my legs and it’s luminescence on my face as a gentle breeze caresses the quiet darkness of the night. I like this late part of the day: the sounds, the sights, the way the world feels so awake while the rest of us sleep. I stop and listen. I close my eyes and take a draw, I inhale the moment. Sensing some excitement I stand up and go to the edge of the deck. I reach out and with my index finger point to the trees. The cricket begins his chirp while I reach towards the bushes on my left and the cicada’s song ensues. After a few more points and a few more beginnings all the musicians are prepared. The music has begun. The conductor of this night-time sonata I shake and curl my fists and arms as the rhythms climb and fall. For one, final delight I stretch out my arm and call upon the firefly who salutes by way of song with lightening on his lips. Mark well, I say to myself, this finale; it will make for good writing.
The night often has inspired my writing and as I consider my past experiences with word I can’t help but think of some of my adventures into those excellent hours. I have spent many hours with my friends Graeme, Ty, and Riley in our cold attic, pipes in hand, blankets shrouding us from the harsh Midwestern winter. We would write, and talk about writing, and we would read, and talk about reading, and we would write about talking about reading. Together we explored the power of word; together we explored moods of writing; and together we explored, and loved, and learned from, our favorite authors. C.S. Lewis, Flannery O’Conner, Soren Kierkegaard, G.K. Chesterton, and a few others made for the best discussion this past winter. It is men like these that have shaped and molded me, both in word and in life. In Richard Attenborough’s film “Shadowlands,” based on Lewis’s life, a character claims that he reads to know he is not alone. I too, read for this reason, and these men help me to know that I am, indeed, among friends.
I have moved inside and I am now sitting on the floor of my candle-lit, incense scented room. I glance up to my book shelf and see the dozens of books by my favorite authors, Lewis for his clarity and precision, O’Conner for the weight of her work, Wendell Berry for his characters and the way he makes me part of his world. These are a few of my favorites but I see also Bradbury and Orwell, Salinger and Twain; even Shakespeare and Spenser and Dante and Eliot. I see Thoreau and Emerson and P.G. Wodehouse and Charles Williams and also modern writers like Tom Wolfe and Jonathon Safron Foer. I see the poetry of Yeats and Keats and a little more of Berry, this time in lyric mode. I see words and lives and loves and loathings and tears and joys and successes and failures and names which will go on into eternity as the best. I see greatness.
It is the standard I reach for. It is the dream I work for. It is the place that I long for.
Writing is my passion and it has been for sometime. I think it isn’t something that I would say that I cultivated, though I have worked to be a better writer, but, rather, I think it is something that simply was built a part of me. It is an itch. It is there. And I simply must scratch. Now the assignment calls for some details pertaining to my experiences in the world of word and so pertain I shall. I try my hand at everything from short fiction, to review, to poetry, to essay. I always enjoyed writing essays for school and, in fact, wrote a thirty-two page thesis paper my senior regarding the quality of American public education. I have written a few short stories and a little under a hundred poems in the last year or so. I have had book and film reviews published in an arts publication and have also taken a course in advertising writing, more precisely called Copywriting, by which I have had the privilege of using to make some money. I am an avid blogger and I keep a journal. I try to take the everyday and make extraordinary. I write because there are times when I struggle and there are times when I succeed; there are times when I am joyful and there times when I am angry and bitter, and writing is way I best know to deal with any of it. Unfortunately, I rarely succeed. But it’s in the effort that I learn to live more fully.
As I write some friends and I are working on publishing a book of our work: poems, short fiction, review, and including original photography and art by member of our group. We call ourselves Bagshot Row. Thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien for the coinage. To put it simply, and yet, it would seem, not so simply, words are my life. And I would have it no other way.
I believe words have power and I believe it is a privilege to wield them. I often remind myself of this by reminding myself that God used words to create; they are God’s mode of communication, and He allows us to use them too. How beautiful is that? Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Atheist you can agree that is a beautiful idea. I believe that words are one of the purest examples of the Incarnation as manifested in Humanity. From me to you and Him to me and me to Him and you to Him and you to me the word is the thing. It is the rub. It is the proof that we are not alone.