I began writing at the age of seven or eight. A voracious reader, I loved consuming books I liked to call "real life fiction", with the swiftness of a hungry cat on a mouse. Back then writing seemed like a natural progression from my organic love to create and frame the world around me.
As I grew older, writing became a way to channel pain, to try the world, to push the boundaries of expression. I was lured by the seduction of the word. Words had the power to change minds and hearts, to instill fear, or impart knowledge, to make the world fall in love with us, or revile us.
I loved the way that words sounded. Putting them together was like creating a dance or a painting. Words seemed to have a secret rhythm with layers of internal music outside a orb of truth. If you could get to that place in the dance, where the sweetness, and bitterness, and love, and truth, and loss and everything in between all commingle together to produce some quality that is truthful for everyone, no matter what their subjectivity, I believe words can be art.
Even now, I get gross bumps when I hear the word, "ethereal", or "mesmeric" or "slick." How bellowing, "omnipotent" sounds compared to the earthiness of the word, "navel" or the litheness of the word "sari" or the impish smugness of the word, "besmirched." How beautiful it is to take a word like "red" and pair it with "earth" and create 1,000 different images in ten minds. Or change the picture by adding "danced" to form, "The red earth danced down the green plain."Without mentioning the word erupted, or lava, but words evoke an image through mere suggestion. Living with words is like living with a bipolar drama queen that is on a crash diet. They can be manipulative, seductive, airy, earthy, bitter, raging or calm.
At my best each word seems to be a character that channels existentially, and then suddenly rises from random characters to something that has meaning, breath, and yes, purpose.
Words have purpose.
But somehow, some way, I loose my words every now and then. I get caught up in the grind of living and forget vocabulary I learned ten years ago. Stress steals away my rhythm so my mind is no longer dancing, and my pen unacknowledged and still. And sometimes there is an emptiness that words don't fill because that is a place reserved for emotion. And then after that, there are words, which when faced with the monumental girth that is life, seem so small. After all, they are just words.
Today I was reading Jill Scott's "The Moments, the Minutes, the Hours," which is a collection of poetry she's written over the years.
She has one line in the prologue, which I am decidedly in love with. "I wrote because tears weren't sufficient." That sentence is the paramour in my writing life. there are many nights when I cry at the injustice of the world, the chilling pain of life until my tears drink all of my oxygen, and it seems at any second I will stop breathing. And then, when I have no more room for anything else inside me, my words fall down. In an odd way, I feel a sense of not relief, but justice. And I want to share it with others. That is the gift God has given me. Although I am comfortable in the spoken word, I find that in my mind with my words I am at home, and truly free.
Now that I am older, I am learning to enjoy silence just as much as I enjoy words. I try to talk less, listen more. I am getting used to the fact that stillness is the presence of God, and not an absence something. I find the quiet makes the music of the written word all the more delicious, like a fresh rain clears the air, crisp like consonants, lush and open like vowels.