A Writer's Obligation

E.B. White felt it was a writer’s obligation “to transmit, as best he can, his love of life, his appreciation for the world.”
— Melissa Sweet, Some Writer!

This summer, I have blogged less but written more. I have listened to the blank page, sat and stared into space, waited for the words to come, tried to get my stories down, and showed up even when I doubt everything I'm doing. All writers talk about this.

Arthur Miller said, "I get up in the morning and I go out to my studio and I write. And then I tear it up! That's the routine, really. Then, occasionally, something sticks. And then I follow that. The only image I can think of is a man walking around with an iron rod in his hand during a lightning storm."

Philip Roth said, "Writing isn't hard work, it's a nightmare....There's a tremendous uncertainty that's built into the profession, a sustained level of doubt that supports you in some way....In fact, one skill that every writer needs is the ability to sit still in this deeply uneventful business." 

Natalie Goldberg said, "When you accept writing as what you are supposed to do, after you've tried everything else...there's finally no place else to go. So no matter how big the resistance, there is one day, there is the next day, and the writing work ahead. You can't depend on its going smoothly, day after day. It won't be that way. You might have one day that is superb, productive, and the next time you write, you are ready to sign up on a ship to Saudi Arabia. There are no guarantees. You might think you have finally created a rhythm with three days running, and the next day the needle scratches the record and you squeak through it, teeth on edge."

Why, with such a dire message from all manner of writers, do I keep showing up to write? The only answer I've come to is that I love this life too much to not write. I have to write of the things that make me feel alive, awake, here, now. 

It's me and TJ going to Costco on Friday night as part of our date night, and the whole time I was in there walking around, it's me feeling like I had just been born. Big packages of everything. Ribs for July 4th. Looking at People magazine while TJ looked at the rows I never walk down. Free whole fudge bars for samples. No one we knew but everybody being in the store being alive together. This we get, real time, summer night at Costco. 

It's getting flowers from two separate friends recently, unexpectedly, and finding out how much I like flowers in a honey jar.


It's that feeling of lyrics for the first time, listening to Blake Shelton's new song "I'll Name the Dogs" this past week. 

It's waterskiing not once but twice on a Saturday.  It's dinner with some of the dearest couples last night. It's sitting on the dock late last night with my family watching an early July 4th fireworks show from the condos across the lake. 

It's watching Chef's Table on Netflix occasionally with TJ and copying down quotes that have nothing to do with writing but inspire me to keep at it. 

IMG_1797 (1).jpg

It's making plans with a friend this week to talk about writing and making other plans this week to read to my kids so we can love the same things. 

It's sitting in church this morning and realizing that all of this life is pointing to something more real. It's being content to let the now be a symbol for next. It can't be perfect now, because my kids have had coughs for three whole weeks, but even hard days are unbelievably good.

I don't know why I get this string of days to live, but I do know I appreciate it. I write to say thank you