Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Living and Writing

Today I was awoken early by thunder and lightening. Rain gradually cascaded down upon the trees and rooftops, adding an extra dampness to what already was a chilly morning. I would love to stay inside today and write, but responsibilities are calling to me.

It seems much of my soon-to-be 40 years have been characterized by a quest to write. Numerous interruptions have formed the backdrop for writing even this simple blog entry.

Much of living can have the illusion of getting in the way of writing, but can you write much substance without truly living? Sometimes I can make a false distinction between writing and living, get myself psyched out and make excuses or wear victim glasses. Am I truly living when I am writing, or am I creating a life as I write and therefore living vicariously through my writing? Or is my writing simply a reflection of the life I truly am living or yearn to live?

When I was much younger I wrote mostly fiction, and it was probable that in those days I often lived my imaginary characters’ lives. Bob Redd, the Vietnam era journalist. Bob Murphy, the anti-war demonstrated. Harry Banter, the washed up and now-deranged ex-Broadway star. I wonder if they still have heartbeat and breath, these personalities I crafted long ago. I ponder whether they continue to live inside of me even if I fail to offer them additional chapters upon which to dance. Do they get older, or stay frozen in the timeless crucible of my creative spark?

Now I pretty much write about my life, where I am the character, as well as compose reflections on threads between the arts, the spirit and leadership. I hope to eventually write fiction again, but for some reason there is a desire to understand my life more before I attempt to create whole new lives. Consistent fiction writers don’t give a damn about whether they have their own lives figured out first, because you never get everything fully sorted on this side of eternity anyway. So maybe that’s another excuse, but for whatever reason I write about my life during this season and I’ll make the best of it.

You can’t plan the birth of a fictional character anyway; they just show up. The best writing often just shows up in the midst of living.


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