Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Music Within

   
Alas for those who never sing,
But die with their music in them!
~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

We gather at Green River for lunch, two of my writer friends and their visitor, an old classmate who happens to be in town. They call him Greg, but his real name is Bernard… 

The young man who’d taken off from NC and thumbed his way to Hollywood to seek his fame and fortune, who left home with only a dream and a hundred dollars in his pocket.

 Did he succeed? He did indeed. Beyond his wildest dreams…Even Clint Eastwood remarked, “Greg, you are the best.”  


We sit at the table and talk shop. Not acting, but writing, the form of performance that does not demand physical grace or youth, but allows one to maintain privacy and still be center stage.  Greg says he hopes to publish the novel he’s working on when he’s finished. 

But that isn’t the main thing. Writing is. Because, as Oliver Wendell Holmes put it, “No sadder thing than for a man to go to his grave with his music still within.” Write down everything you can. While you can. Do it today.  Tomorrow may be too late.  You never know.    

I grab a napkin, hand Greg a pen, and ask him to jot down that quote for me. I want to always remember why I write. When I come home from our luncheon, I place my napkin with Greg’s handwriting in a green recipe box, considering this the main ingredient to writing persistence.

The drive to be immortal. Brian Doyle writes for the same reason and more…

“Because like all human beings I have an innate drive to leave something shapely and permanent behind me, some marker of passage through the woods…

"I’d like to leave several books behind me so that someday my children will open and read them and think maybe the old man actually had a fastball for a while there…

“Because writing is a form of contemplation and a form of prayer…

“Because writing occasionally leads to rapture…

“Because writing is a way to connect electrically and directly with other people, which we crave, while generally leaving privacy, which we also crave…”


What about you? Why do you write? 

63 comments:

  1. We write to understand ourselves and the world we live in; we write to be authentic, true to ourselves; we write to process experiences and share joy and sorrow; we write because we are free to choose.

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    1. Sedonadan, all good reasons! Ditto!

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  2. I write because I am called to it. I am at my happiest and best when doing so, even on days the words don't want to come. Because, I know, eventually, they will. I trust in that . . .
    Also, Debra, I love the last line of the above quotation: "Because writing is a way to connect electrically and directly with other people, which we crave, while generally leaving privacy, which we also crave . . ."
    Defines me to a "T"!
    Great and thoughtful post as always! :)
    Blessings, my friend!

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    1. Martha, I have to agree with you. You ARE called to write;-) And what a blessing you’ve been to those of us in the blogosphere! I don’t know how you produce daily devotions. Wait a minute, yes I do. You have a very present help with you always. Hats off to you and Him!

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  3. I write because I enjoy it! I do it so that all the scattered thoughts running through my head can be seen. I want to share my experiences, my joys, sadness, happiness. I write because I hope that someone (even if it's only 1) finds what I write useful. I write in hopes that my stories, crafts, recipes, laughter helps someone find their own strength to write..

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    1. Deb, I can't think of a better reason to write than, "because I enjoy it!" Thank you for sharing your experiences, joys, even sadness...and for sharing your creative life. You are such an encouragement in so many ways.
      Thank you for being you!

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  4. Hello.
    Writing is my passion...it's something I have been doing since I was a young boy. For me, writing is like breathing...I cannot exist without either. My words belong to the voice of love. It's love's way of speaking what's in my heart. I write to share with my readers the beauty of love.
    Loved that first photo.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Midnight Rainbow

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    1. Hi Andy!
      Your words remind me of Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, "Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?"
      And if writing is like breathing, then you MUST write!

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  5. i write to make a difference in the world. I write to share myself and my story. I write to encourage, empower and change lives for the better. Great question. Thanks for asking!!

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    1. Lynne, you are making a difference in the world! You have made a difference in mine. Your words DO encourage and empower. By the way, how is the book coming along? I need to get over there soon and catch up with you.

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  6. I write because it is cathartic. It helps me release my pent up emotions. I hope someday Ron my son reads my poems and feels good about it.

    http://rimlybezbaruah.blogspot.in/2012/02/lingering.html

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    1. Rimly, writing is cathartic. It's the best form of sublimation ever! I pray that Ron reads your passionate poems and knows his mom's heart from reading these.

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  7. I write because it is my passion, always has been. It brings out the emotions which I am otherwise unable to express verbally....it gives me immense satisfaction and yes, I will be leaving something behind...a piece of me.

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    1. Janaki, and what a creative passion you have! Write when you're angry, sad, happy... Emotions bring out the best of writing ;-)

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  8. I write because,It unshackles me from this humdrum living and raises my soul higher, so that I can see the beauty of the world from up there. Writing liberates my mind and enriches my very being; it gives me a reason to stay alive, to create, to be content. It defines me, it’s my identity. Writing is my life.

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    1. It does raise our soul higher. It's transcendent! Writing does liberate the mind and enrich our lives. So glad we met in the cyber world of expression!

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  9. That is a deep deep post Debra! I write to communicate with the unseen - sometimes I end up communication with myself too. I just absolutely loved this post and am bookmarking it to read it whenever I need answers...

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    1. Oh Kriti, I'm so glad you gleaned something from this. I've never thought about communicating with the unseen, but I have written for myself. Thank you for sharing your own deep thoughts. We learn from each other, that's another reason to write!

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  10. I think we all share a common need for self-expression. Some do it with words, like us here. Some paint. Some compose musical works. Others sculpt, or build. Athletes express themselves with their bodies. An accountant creates order out of chaos. Those in the medical field bring surcease of pain. It is all an outpouring of a desire to express that most intrinsic part of us...who we are.

    Why do I write? For that very reason...to give voice to who I am.

    Much love to you for yet another beautiful post, Debra!

    - Dawn

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    1. Your thoughts in that first paragraph are magical, wonderful, special! Quote-worthy, as your words tend to be. Self-expression is among the top reasons I'd imagine most write - or create anything, sometimes turning a void into something amazing!

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  11. Wow, Debra, this is wonderful. So many beautiful words of wisdom in this piece.

    “Because writing is a form of contemplation and a form of prayer…" So true. Writing is a spiritual practice - as Natalie Goldberg puts it - is how I describe it for myself. It brings me to a deeper place that I might have otherwise skimmed over or missed. It reminds me who I am.

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    1. When I first realized that writing is a spiritual practice, it changed everything for me. With this revelation comes the responsibility to be the best we can be, don't you think? Many of the BEST writers view it that way. That must be why their works shine so bright.

      Love this quote...
      “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?”
      ~ E.M. Forster.

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  12. I write in the hopes that someone will learn, love and smile. I write to remember, I write to forget. I write for me and the joy I receive for the sharing of it.

    Great post! <3<3<3

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    1. Hi Jan! All good reasons to write. Joy! <3 <3< <3

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  13. Hi, Debra! ~

    So much to love here today -- Beginning with the photo at the top of your post!

    I love this post and especially this: "I place my napkin with Greg’s handwriting in a green recipe box, considering this the main ingredient to writing persistence." Lovely!

    I love reading all my friends' responses to the question!

    So, why do I write? I'm a story-teller, sometimes I use photographs to tell a story and sometimes I perform. And sometimes I write. For me it gives meaning to life to put everyday experiences into the context of an entertaining and meaningful story.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from James Allen:
    “Composer, sculptor, painter, poet, prophet, sage, [writer], these are the makers of the after-world, the architects of heaven. The world is beautiful because they exist.”

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    1. Linda, I’ll never forget that napkin with Greg’s words… an ordinary recipe box containing the main ingredient. Stories, photos worth a thousand words, and word pictures, these are the ingredients that drive writer/artists. Thank you for your words here. They immediately lifted my spirit. And thank you for sharing those from James Allen. A keeper! Hope your weekend is wonderful!

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  14. I write because I have always been inspired by words and I want to use my words to inspire too. Your words, Debra are always inspiring, loving and uplifting ♥

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    1. Corinne, at the risk of being redundant, I’ll say it again: you always inspire! Thank you for sharing your words, always uplifting and genuine. Music to the ear…… ♫♫♫♪♪♫♫♫…

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  15. I used to write because I was most content when words were spilling across the page, but alas, I am out of practice and trying to get back into it.

    New NB follower via the Friendship Friday hop. Hope you will stop by my blog, say hello and follow me back. =)

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    1. Shari, prime that pump! Write a little everyday if possible. And I will practice what I preach – or try to ;-) Have you read Rumors of Water? The author’s name escapes me at the moment but she says that life interrupts the flow more often than not. But that’s okay. We write about our interruptions then. Thank you so much for stopping by and following, and I’ll be sure to repay the kindness. ~ hugs!

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  16. There is something within me that longs to write, to put to paper the ponderings and perplexities of life that mark my days. It feels though, that I am like one in a wilderness that only infrequently finds a stream, a brook, a river where the words flow out with ease and beauty.
    This lovely post of yours resonates with me so deeply . . . I want to learn how to tap that undercurrent, that underground stream of words that flows swiftly beneath the surface.

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    1. Andrea Dawn, I’ve missed you. And I love your metaphor of being in a wilderness where we only find a stream, a brook, or a river occasionally, where words flow with ease and beauty. Those moments are rare. You have inspired me, though, to write an upcoming post on this. Do we wait for the “muse” or do we just show up for work and write, inspired or not? ~ Love & Blessings

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  17. I started our writing because I had a dream to write a book, in response to a promise I made to my dying father, to stop the voices in my head (the characters) to make a name for myself, for fame, a villa in Barcelona, for reasons that no longer matter. Now I write because it gives me joy. I wrote the book and kept my promise. As for fame and the villa, I'll have to see what comes next.

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    1. Brenda, isn’t it amazing, the business of writing? You begin for one reason, then shift gears and go in another. A villa in Barcelona catapulted you into orbit, how cool is this? I know another writer (and you know her too) who wanted to be “a writer who lived in a little stone cottage surrounded by hollyhocks and craggy rocks by the edge of a wild windy sea.” I love these stories of our early aspirations as writers. I write for joy too. Can’t imagine where I’d be without this outlet of expression…

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  18. very interesting photo. Writing has so many layers and levels, it fits everyone in a special way. Visiting from Friendship Friday.

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    1. Self Sagacity, writing CAN have many layers and levels, but not always ;-) Thank you for stopping by, and have a wonderful weekend!

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  19. I started writing as I was curious... from there it lead to writing about myself and my emotions.. I exhausted that side and then uncovered writing with an image in mind. It tapped into a side of me that was hidden.... A few words or sentences to reflect my thoughts and image was fascinating....
    I have moments where I write when turmoil begins and for me it releases it.. lets me surrender to what is happening....

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    1. Savira, yes, writing helps in self-discovery, and it’s the perfect release for emotions. I appreciate what you said about writing with an image in mind. That’s the poetic angle, which I love most of all. And how you can take an everyday experience and turn it into a work of art, which you do all the time. xoxox

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  20. I loved this post and your quote about why we write is so powerful. I orinally wrote just as status updates and have now "upgraded" my intentions and style to attempting to do something more with it, hopefully to inspire others I guess.

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    1. Aaron, an artist like you can do anything with ease. You are an inspiration to all who read you. I know you’ve been to me, and I hope you continue to write with depth about life as you see it, as well as capture moments in photos. Keep sharing!

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  21. Oh Debra....why do I write? I write because it's an outlet for my creative spirit, because in writing, I have a voice that many, at times, listen to. I write because it allows me to reach a different realm of consciousness, an alternate universe, where I can be anything, do anything, live anywhere. I write because it lightens the load that sometimes takes residence in my head, because it allows me to ponder, question, create. I write because in doing so, I come full circle as the creative spirit God intended me to be and suddenly, I'm able to discover my purpose. :)

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    1. Bella, and what a unique writing voice you have! The natural gift of humor shines, as though you were born to bring smiles to faces. Writing is a venue for your alternate reality, as you’ve called it. A place where the inner reality intersects the outer. And I know that, in your case, it’s a call. A call to brighten the lives of others!

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  22. There's a song by Stone Temple Pilots, "Where the River Goes" in which Scott sings:

    "Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide
    Sing the song or keep it inside
    Bought the farm, but the farmer done died
    Sing that song, sing that song inside"

    It's perfect for what we have to do.

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    1. J.R., I went straight over to Youtube to hear Stone Temple Pilots perform “Where the River Goes” and man, do they rock! Never heard the song before, and now I have. Thank you for sharing the lyrics. So cool!

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  23. Because like all human beings I have an innate drive to leave something shapely and permanent behind me, some marker of passage through the woods… this is why I write and he said it perfectly. I love this post about writing. It speaks in words that I'm not sure I could have expressed the same way but believe to be true. And that photo is awesome. So glad you stopped by my place. I was thinking about you the other day, that I hadn't heard from you in awhile and hoped all is well.

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    1. Shelley, I'll stop by your place every chance I get because, well, you are purely a blessing!

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  24. Many years ago, in a moment when the frustrations of publishing (a world apart from the joys/frustrations of writing) were getting to me, I posited the question (rhetorical as it was) over dinner with my husband: why do I keep at this? The answer was as 'pure and simple' as it gets: I write to complete the thought.

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    1. Deborah, I was just thinking about that today, the frustrations of publishing. At least 3 manuscripts lie in their boxes like coffins in a funeral home. Why is this? I don’t want to deal with the publishing world. That must be it. Magazine publishing is easier because you haven’t invested as much in an article or poem as you have in a 350 page manuscript. Moving right along… “I write to complete the thought” is perfect! Think I’ll do that today with something I’ve been avoiding :-( Thanks!

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  25. I write becasue I feel I have no choice. Those words and thoughts need to get out. And, lucky me, when I grow tired of the words (which is really never) I take out a colored pencil and draw. Great post. Thanks.

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    1. Elizabeth, ditto! For some of us, it’s a call; therefore, we feel we have no choice. I never grow tired of words. Words make the world go round. And images too!

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  26. I loved hearing about your encounter with Greg, it's inspiring to hear about others who realize their dreams and go after them. The Holmes quote is one definitely to meditate on!

    I'd say I write to help me release an energy that if I kept inside would torment me but when I release it, it brings a deep sense of peace and satisfaction. Writing can definitely be a conduit to God for me, where I am focusing my mind intently on a topic or question and where insights can pop into my mind when otherwise they wouldn't. I love when people respond to what I write, adding more perspective and depth to a topic.

    Great post. :)

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    1. Jessica, writing is the best release for pent up emotions. Have you ever felt angst and didn’t know what to do with it? Writing is a safe release. Your writing reveals the heart of a woman following hard after God. And this, my dear friend, is what the world needs to witness. Thank you for your authentic words which inspire others to do their own seeking.

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    1. ChaiLicious, amen! ;-)
      I've enjoyed my dark Sumatra today.
      Let us rejoice in that magic potion that keeps us alive and awake!

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  28. I write because my brain won't let me sleep. I write because it's the one thing I never get bothered doing. I write because I'm shy and can never speak my mind. I write because I have imagination and it would be a shame to waste that. And I write because I love to create and I've tried all the arts--painting, drawing, singing, playing music and I coudln't do any of that up to my expectations, but for me, my writing always lives up to my challenges.

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  29. Allison, ditto to all of the above, all the reasons we write. Are you a lark or a night owl? Is your best writing at night, or morning? You sound like a passionate writer, madly in love with what you do. Writing is my primary form of creativity too. I notice you have many blogs to choose from. Which one should I visit first? My chief interest is writing. Of course!

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  30. I always love how amazing your articles are when I co e to visit, this being no exception. It is funny because I was just going to write a similar themed piece on "why do I", ironic eh.....care for a guest poster as a follow up to your question? Dm, tweet or fb me

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    1. Aaron, send it on. You have my email, right? I look forward to hearing from you.
      Have a great weekend!

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  31. beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...because sometime the outer voice can't speak and the inner voice still wants to be heard...so we write...and sometimes sing without words:-)

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