I love writing.
I get up at one o’clock in the morning with an insight and go to my desk and write until six when I stagger back to bed—elated, exhausted. I sleep ’till ten and go back to my desk.
I go into restaurants and rent tables, asking the waiter how much tip he wants to let me sit there and write for three or four hours. I write in my head—in church, in the car while I’m driving and in line anywhere. I even write in my head when I’m writing.
I’ll be somewhere with my husband and he’ll say something to me and I’ll say huh and he’ll say “You’re writing, aren’t you?”
I don’t cook, I don’t straighten up the house, I don’t even shower. And I get very irritated when somebody expects something of me while I’m writing—even a “good morning” is sometimes beyond my means. When I’m writing that’s my reality. Nothing outside of it really exists, except as an interruption to the real thing. Don’t interrupt me! I’m busy!
I’m more than busy, I’m not even here. I’m writing.
I don’t talk about my writing either. I just write.
My grandson’s first word was “gung.”
It’s what he called his blanket that he had chewed the corners—it smelled of sweat and saliva and dead skin cells. He would bury his face down into the crumpled folds of that stinky, personal universe and shiver all over his body with the ecstasy of love for his blanket.
Shivering ecstasy—that’s what I feel when I sit at my desk and write, my computer waiting diligently behind me, her empty blue screen quivering in anticipation of my words.
Writing is my security blanket. How lucky I am to have it in my life. It relieves me of having to watch television, or having to go to lunch with boring people. If I were President, it would relieve me of having to bomb poor people in other countries.
The first time I wrote anything was in high school. I went to a navy-blue-uniforms-blue-and-white-saddle-oxfords-no-lipstick-no-nail-polish Catholic girl’s high school during the l950s.
Aside from the retreats with the priests designed to suppress sexuality, one of the biggest events of the year was the short story contest. The winner became a celebrity, was awarded a ribbon and a fifty dollar cash prize.
The short story contest got my attention during my freshman year when I read the winning story. In the off-handed arrogance of youth I thought, I can write better than that. Where’d I get that idea? I’d never written a short story in my life.
By the time my senior year rolled around, the same straight-A student had won all of the short story contests. I was sick of it. When the contest was announced, I decided to enter. I had nothing to lose but a bet with myself.
I still have that story. It was the ridiculous tale of an attorney who poisoned his client in the courtroom during trial. “Why did I kill him?” the lawyer rants. “I resented him for his notoriety—or his publicity, for the way people spoke of him, some even praising him. I resented the way they neglected me, his lawyer. I did all the work and received nothing. Yes! I poisoned him!”
With writing like that how could I lose?
I still have the blue ribbon.
I never told my parents about the contest, I wanted to keep the fifty dollars. And like the winner of the Academy Award who wonders how she is gonna follow up such an accomplishment, I wrote nothing else—not until 50-some years later.
And again, today, I love writing.
It’s sacred. It’s holy. I adore it.
I want to take it to bed with me and kiss it on its neck. I want to suck on it, have it spill its letters all over me, rub them into my face and my belly and my breasts until they turn into paragraphs and sentences. I want it to get up from under the pages of my sweaty sheets, stand by the door, gleaming and throw a fistful of commas on me, daring me to find anything else I love as much.
But beyond even that, at the age of seventy-three, I’ve come to know that writing is the most important relationship I have in my life. It’s a mother, a counselor and a best friend. It tells me secrets, reveals my history to me and sometimes even predicts my future. It helps me to live my life, and to live it once again through its words.
“Do what you love.” ~ Joseph Campbell
Writing is what I love.
I read once of Schopenhauer saying there is a feeling we can have of an author somewhere writing the novel of our lives. That novel includes seemingly chance events that reveal the unfolding of a plot beyond our knowledge.
Writing uncovers that plot for me and acquaints me with the author, reminding me that she is indeed myself.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock