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Butt in the Chair
Butt in the chair. That’s what all of the successful writers say. Writers have to write, even if it ends up crappy. That’s what editing is for. But, what do you do when butt in the chair isn’t an option most days? What do you do when you work a full-time job, parent your kids, and live your life and love your spouse? What do you do when life presses, pressurizes and squeezes every inch of breath and life you have just to get through the day? You write, in the in)(between spaces.
I might actually get stuff onto the computer in my office which is really just our laundry area (see picture). But, I don’t write there. You might think then that I head to Starbucks or a library or someplace quiet and safe because if you aren’t in the quiet and safe place your writing may not be very good. We need to be open and vulnerable as writers. We have to dig into the depths of our souls and expose it for everyone to see. But life doesn’t work like that. Safety and quiet, they aren’t why I write. I write for the adventure.
Writing to Discover
I write to discover new things. It was once said that there three types of writers: those who write to discover the world they hope, those who write to discover the way the world is and those who write to discover the world they fear.
I write in hope. I write to discover the hope in the world and that requires no less risk than writing in reality or in fear. Writing may seem like a safe profession from the outside, but there is no one that scares me more than me. That makes this self-revelation all the more frightening when you are in the mall play area or the playground or church. When I get exposed, I jot down just enough to get the thought finished later. Sometimes I get it finished on a walk with my son, or at 5:30 am because the thought just won’t leave me alone. Sometimes it is driving him to school or coming home from school. Regardless, I write in the in-between spaces. Between life, between hurt and pain and love and joy, when other people take a breath from life, I lean in and scribble a few notes.
Why do it? Well, writing is like breathing. The stroke of the pen is that effervescent exhale. The punctuation that necessary inhale. Writing for me isn’t something I want to do or something I have to do. It is something I get to do. Writing is living. When we take life for granted we forget to breathe. We get all bottled up in the pains of either holding a breathe too long or never taking one in. Without writing, I am either exhausted and out of breath or I have held that hot air in too long.
Like throwing up, if I don’t write, any old thing is liable to spill out on paper. I have working proofs for several technological advances that will never happen in our time. I will write. My wife has learned that somedays I come home and crazy person write because I haven’t done it enough. Sometimes they are neat little poems or heartfelt sadness or a thesis on why everyone else is wrong. All this is good because there is always a stop-gap and a place for me to process my emotions, on the page with a pen in hand. Writing brings focus, clarity and an inner peace. It forges the many voices in my head into a single cohesive idea. One the page those voices complain, encourage, whine to and rejoice with someone else.
That’s why I eke out those 600 words in-between every day. The voices of people I have learned from have knowledge and wisdom everyone needs. They deserve to be heard. The soup of people’s knowledge, wisdom, and understanding have to be shared. I have to sell that soup. To not communicate would be the greatest disappointment to all those who have poured their lives into me. On the other hand, if you don’t like my soup, I get to say this, “NO SOUP FOR YOU.” In the end, I write for me first. Then I write for you. I write that you may learn from the same voices I have.