These are words we hear a lot these days as we all struggle to make sense of a chaotic and divided world.
Personally, I’ve found writing to be an anchor. This began when I was 13 and began keeping a diary – actually writing to an imaginary friend named Ken. I could pour out my thoughts to Ken who, as an imaginary friend, was completely nonjudgmental. Was it a matter of being myself? Or was it a matter of becoming myself?
What I discovered about writing at that early age is that we don’t sit down to write what we’ve already figured out. Rather, we sit down and write as a way to figure things out.
This month I found a book called Write for Your Life (Random House, 2022) by well-known journalist and novelist, Anna Quindlen. I love this book for so many reasons. Quindlen shares her keen interest in the role that writing can play in the lives of virtually everyone. I recommend this book for those who love writing, and also for those on the verge of discovering writing as a tool for doing okay and being okay no matter what life throws in our path. Quindlen addresses journal writing, letter writing, and a host of other writing issues.
Write for Your Life includes some of my favorite quotes about writing:
“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – Anais Nin
“To survive, you must tell stories.” – Umberto Eco
“I can’t play bridge. I don’t play tennis. All those things that people learn, and I admire, there hasn’t seemed time for. But what there is time for is looking out the window.” – Alice Munro
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“In all my life, I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing.” – Langston Hughes
“It’s like driving a car at night: you never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow
The Nin quote and the Doctorow quote are actually in my book, Writing Memoir Together: A Roundtable Approach. I plan to add the other quotes to the upcoming revised edition.
Regarding the Doctorow quote, Quindlen makes the point that while he was referring to writing, this simile can also be applied to life itself. In these troubled times, sometimes all we can do is figure out the next best step.
I hope you’re finding that next best step and taking it with confidence. Be kind to yourself. And if it feels right to you, make time to write.
This is an “open microphone” challenge. Please send in whatever you would like to share! Thank you!