Write Well and Carry a Big Machete


Here’s the thing, my mother told me that God never promised us a rose garden so I better bring a machete. She also said that if I stood too close to the edge of the platform the EL train would suck me under. But, and this might or might not be a good thing, she never told me what I should do with my life. No, she pretty much left all the tough decisions up to me. So the idea of becoming a writer was never up for discussion. I simply decided that this would be my goal in life—at least a goal—career-wise. I always loved books and stories. My most favorite school day was when the Scholastic book orders came in. Remember that? It seemed we could get seventy-five books for a buck ninety-five back then. I raced home with my treasures and wouldn’t come up for air for days. I was reading at the age of three and so I pretty much devoured anything with words on it—including cereal boxes and shampoo bottles. So words and reading and stories were always a part of my life. It was like instead of white and red blood cells my heart pumped the alphabet. So I suppose it was a given that I would become a writer. But why? Why write?

I love what Flannery O’Connor said when asked that very question. She answered: “Because I’m good at it.” Yeah, that works but there’s more to it suppose. I’ve said that I write because it’s the only thing I do that when I’m doing it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else. How’s that for a convoluted sentence. But it’s true. I also write to escape the world. I know, it’s backwards I suppose. People often say they read to escape. Well, I write to escape because I basically am not so jazzed about the real world and prefer to sit in a universe of my own design. Is that egotistical? I don’t know. Writing and words are my machete. They help me cut through the nasty parts of the garden and find the beauty, to make sense of things and maybe in some way help someone else to make sense of things. Artists use a paintbrush, surgeons a scalpel, ministers the pulpit, musicians use their instruments. We all have something that helps us make sense of our little corner of the universe. So, what’s your machete? The weeds don’t hack themselves.

By the way, the picture has nothing to do with writing or machetes. It's just Mango feeling humiliated again.

3 comments:

Written By said...

"I’ve said that I write because it’s the only thing I do that when I’m doing it, I don’t feel like I should be doing something else."

Yup.

Ramona Richards said...

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I also write because when I don't, I become...um...grouchy. I can always tell when it's at a fever pitch when even casual friends ask, "Written anything lately?"

Marti Pieper said...

I think of writing as the way I respond to life. Stuff happens. And when it does, musicians sing or play; photographers create beautiful images; painters labor over a landscape. But writers, well, we write.

I guess that's why the childhood version of me (who sounds oddly similar to the young Joyce Magnin) somehow turned every school assignment I could into a writing exercise of one kind or other. Yep. I even submitted a brilliant paper on probability and statistics to my high school pre-calc teacher.

"Words, not numbers" is still my motto. Besides--words make a much better machete.