Writing to Survive

I don’t have any choice but to write.  It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Writing is survival for me.

The words swell up so big inside me at times that they pound against the confines of my head.  They want out.  They must be out.  It can feel like I will explode with them if I don’t get them on paper.  This is why for so many years I was a “napkin poet”.  I wrote when I had to… often in coffee shops or cafes and the only items available to use was a napkin and a borrowed pen from the wait staff.

Now I’m more disciplined.  I write everyday.  A poem, a bit of prose, a blog post.  I study form, I practice, I do writing exercises, and I have writing mentors.  I work at writing.  Something new has developed from this, something unexpected.  The words have gotten more sneaky.

They no longer bang inside my head when they want out.  They know they’ll get their chance.  What happens instead is I sit down to write a nature poem and I write a poem about my divorce.  I sit down to write a love poem and I write a poem about my grandpa.  I sit down to write a poem about parenting and I write a poem about dying.   I often don’t realize what’s happening until I’m a couple of lines in.

I still write to survive though.  The last few days I had some writer’s block.  Perhaps the intimidation from wanting to write a specific piece to be read at a birthday party for a woman in my community.  I couldn’t do it.  Having nothing suitable for the theme, I opted out and didn’t read.  I’m not sure if this was wise.  Maybe I should have just grabbed a poem of any type and read anyhow.  It’s unclear to me if that decision would have been best.  At any rate, the writer’s block had me in its clutches until yesterday.  Something new and unexpected rolled out onto the page.

I didn’t have the build up I spoke of before.  I didn’t think I was going to explode with the need to put these thoughts on paper, but as soon as I saw them on the page I knew I was writing to survive.  Not a literal survival of physicality, but one of essence.  If I don’t get this out, if I don’t process it in this beautiful form that I tend to use, I will lose something precious of mine.  I will lose the essence of who I am.  I will lose the ability to forgive and move on.

So I’m writing.  I’m writing to survive and once the piece is finished I will likely post it here to share with you all. Meanwhile, keep writing-whatever the reason.



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