Monday, October 19, 2015

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants, or in this case John Straley

John Straley in his natural habitat
I sometimes think that I may have a little wisdom to impart about writing, but then I realize that everything I know, I learned from someone else along the way. I would have liked to post the following words and said that they were mine because I believe in them so completely, but there’s a small chance that the inestimable John Straley reads this blog and he might recognize his own writing. Then again, it’s been over a year since he posted them as a guest blogger on 49 Writers, so maybe he would just think that I’m awfully smart.

I copied these words out longhand and put them in a notebook. I refer to them when I get a little down about the fact that I’ll never be a famous poet (as if there really ever is a famous poet… though poets are famous to each other and famous to people who worship the written word in all its complication and glory).

And so, today, I remind you of what John wrote in July 2014 (you can read the whole dang thing here). It’s wisdom, pure and simple, and dang good writing advice.

Remember… every day of writing has to be a victory. Every day you set a goal. Every day you meet it. Then you celebrate your accomplishment. 

Now, why is writing worth celebrating?

Reason number one: we are all haunted by ghosts of memory and imagination. Writing allows us to make these ghosts real, and give them voice.

Reason number two: the world needs every one of us. Writing allows each of us a beginning to find the best way to contribute to one of the myriad solutions out there. 

Reason number three: for God to exist in any meaningful way she/he/it needs our love and praise. Writing allows us to lay out the architecture of that praise whether it be poetry, prose, direct action in politics, scientific research, music, art… you get the idea… writing is handy in the praise department. (If you are an atheist and believe only in the big bang and the materialist's view of philosophical truth, language is still your necessary manna from mammalian neurology.)

Amen, John Straley. Amen.

So get out there this week, folks, and put your pen to paper or your fingers on the keyboard and write something.



Lynn Lovegreen said...

That is a great quote, just as it was the first time I saw it. :-) Thanks for the reminder, Erin.

Emily said...

yes, to John Straley! Terrific post, Erin.