When I lived in the Lower-48, solstice didn’t mean all that much to me or anyone else that I knew. But now that I live where the dawns of December come late and the sunsets come early, I’m exquisitely attuned to when that light/dark ratio will start to slide back towards brightness.
For me, solstice more than New Year’s Eve marks a time of introspection. A time when I take stock of all that I’ve done and all that I’d like to do. And so, perhaps like every writer who isn’t paying the bills with her/his writing, I check in with myself about why I pursue this mad and delightful task, this “writing.”
A few years ago, I had the privilege to spend a little time at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference with the awe-inspiring poet Kwame Dawes. And so my virtual ears perked up when I read this quote about why he writes:
I write in what is probably a vain effort to somehow control the world in which I live, recreating it in a manner that satisfies my sense of what the world should look like and be like.
I’m trying to capture in language the things that I see and feel, as a way of recording their beauty and power and terror, so that I can return to those things and relive them. In that way, I try to have some sense of control in a chaotic world.
I want to somehow communicate my sense of the world—that way of understanding, engaging, experiencing the world—to somebody else. I want them to be transported into the world that I have created with language.
And so the ultimate aim of my writing is to create an environment of empathy, something that would allow the miracle of empathy to take place, where human beings can seem to rise out of themselves and extend themselves into others and live within others. That has a tremendous power for the human being. And I know this, because that is what other people’s writing does to me when I read it. (From The Greater Good website.)
That environment of empathy seems so very important these days in our tired old world. As I consider why I continue to put in the long unglamorous hours at the page, I will be holding that idea like a candle flame until the long day’s light comes back. I know it will be enough to find my way.
May you all have a peaceful and beautiful holiday season. 49 Writers will still be posting things every week-day in the next two weeks, so don’t forget to check in with us. And be well. I hope you find time to write.