The Willow & War Blog

On Writing

A radio host asked listeners to identify the sound he would play next. We weren't calling in for the prize but my mother and I waited for the DJ to roll the audio. She said it sounded like a dog sniffing the studio mic. I knew better.

It was the sound of a pen and pad. The scribble and scrawl of ink on paper. It was familiar even as a young boy and it's likely one of the only constants in my life; the wrist flick and dragging of lines. Page after page, year after year. Some days ran together before a journal would skip several months. Themes emerged. Struggles. Patterns. Growth. The silent brawl between my spirit and mind played out over years. Spewed theology. Loves. Hates. Certainties. Doubts.

I found freedom in poetry and short essays. My mind is never in one place long enough to sustain long-form writing. The release of the pen (or keyboard) comes in bursts and starts. Perhaps I'm a product of the culture that shortens "okay" to "k" but the Psalms were never too long and they painted the portrait of a king on his knees. That's not half-bad.

There’s no pretense here. I don't drift around art galleries and connect intellectually with a dribble of paint across canvas. I read famous poets and in all truth, don’t really understand the hype. I read classic literature and drop the books after several chapters. I'm not going to force myself to like the wine because it has the right year on the label. There are many writers more suited for the job of carrying the torch of true literary spirit. Novelists. World-creators. Social commentators. Ink-smudged prophets.

I'd be among that last category, if any. I'm no master of language. The words aren’t always there. But I see clearly. And I put that to words. I learned this later than I would have liked - that my gut and my sight were a gift. As is yours. How you see the world may not seem special, but your sight is patterned after your uniqueness. Thinking it needs to be corrected, aligned, is a fatal error. I spent too much time trying to hitch my brain and soul to my religion and narrow worldview. I cut that rope but didn’t walk away. I simply walked alongside and saw new things, or old things with new eyes.

Life is vast to any one person. We've not yet reached the bottom of our own waters or the expanse of the heavens. We fire rockets into a void, aiming for bright lights. And we think we know something.

Yet, the pulse of the people is easily felt. In the quiet before dawn, you can feel it. In the slow breathing. In a hand over the heart, lips pushing warm air into cold air.

And I write because life is vast but the heart is not. We break easily. Brittle people conquering and shattering one another. So immense in our own little world. And maybe there's a way to stop that, or slow it down, or stop one heart from bleeding out.

Perhaps.

That's a reason worth trying for.