Five members of Austin Mystery Writers post here regularly, and I sometimes wonder whether you readers know which of us is which. So I’m going to clear up any questions concerning my identity.
I’m Kathy. I write about angst. Any time you arrive here to find weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over the writing life, it’s my teeth you hear gnashing.
I’m writing this at home, but home isn’t the only place I gnash. I do it at my office, AKA bookstore coffee shop, in full view of the public. I try to emote quietly, but muttering carries. People around me, many of them equipped with laptops and writing assignments of their own, receive full benefit of my outbursts: “Stupid, stupid, stupid!” “Noooo.” “What’s the word? What’s the word?” “^!*%&@% network.”
(I don’t really say ^!*%&@% , but that’s what I mean.)
I suspect other writers gnash, too.
Consider American poet William Cullen Bryant, author of “Thanatopsis.” I can’t imagine his interrupting himself with undignified emotional outbursts, but no one who holds his forehead like that is easy in his mind.
Today, though, there will be no gnashing. Today I depart from the usual tales of woe to say, I love writing.
I love the exhilaration I experience when words flow onto the page.
I love finding just the right word to express my meaning.
I love revising, moving sentences and paragraphs around, cutting excess–words, paragraphs, whole pages.
I love writing an entire blog post and then scrapping it and writing something different. (As I did for this post.)
I love filling holes to add clarity.
I love watching a story develop: beginning, middle, and end.
I love–oh, how I love–line editing, slashing words and phrases, discovering the one word whose omission makes the piece smoother, tighter.
I love the joy I feel on reading the finished product–and finding one more word to cut.
I love the satisfaction and the surprise of completing a task I didn’t think I could do.
I love making something out of nothing.
I love making art.
I love creating.
I love saying, “I write.”
I love loving writing.
Lagniappe, Freebie, Pilon
William Cullen Bryant wrote “Thanatopsis” when he was seventeen years old. The title comes from the Greek thanatos (“death”) and opsis (“sight”), and has been translated “Meditation upon Death.” He initially hid the poem from his father because it expressed ideas not found in traditional Christine doctrine. In the concluding lines, which my mother memorized in high school and sixty years later could recite from memory, the poet instructs how to “join the innumerable caravan” of those who have gone before.
So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan, which moves
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.
Imagine Bryant reading those lines. He must have loved writing.
See the entire poem here.
Kathy Waller blogs at To Write Is to Write Is to Write,which she plans to rename, and, every thirty days or so, with friends at Writing Wranglers and Warriors. She blogged at Whiskertips until cats took it over.