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Monday, April 14, 2008

Words On White Paper

Why do you write? Yes, you. Quickly don't think about it. Why do you write? No, I don't mean why do you write when you have to write. I mean why do you write when you want to write? Still no answer? Wait. There it is; you have it. If you do not yet have "it," do not worry. Spend the rest of the day thinking about it and you will discover a reason sooner or later.

B.T. Cassidy, the writer of The Anatomy of Construction has an opening remark on his BlogCatalog page that echoes my sentiments perfectly. He writes, "I believe we can all write, and all have stories to tell." For years, I have read my students' stories, tales of voyages across the sea in an inflatable raft as they watched others around them drown or about starting over after divorce, addiction or missteps. Some of these stories depict situations and circumstances that seem foreign to me and that I have never experienced. In my sheltered world, these catastrophic life changing events just do not occur, or do they and have I just been too blind to see? Other times, I find it difficult to comprehend the magnitude of the anguish or the sacrifice. Without warning I am reminded of the struggles and challenges so many people face in other countries with limited resources, limited freedom and limited opportunities. Sitting motionless in front of my class, I read essays written by those who in their short years have lived through experiences no one should have ever had to live. Fighting back my emotions and trying to avoid making a fool of myself, I sit there twisting and turning lowering my head so no one will see as the tears roll down my face. No, not all stories are tragic and depressing. In fact, even some of the very sad stories have happy endings, and I always love a happy ending. To my surprise, regardless of the hurdles, these writers have not lost hope. They continue to move, progress, change and adapt while they attempt to prosper and achieve their desired dreams.

Recently, one of my students wrote about her experience during the Kosovo and Serbian war, and how she watched her father die. Her home was destroyed, and to escape the violence and carnage around her, she and her family walked away with nothing...absolutely nothing. Everything she knew and owned was obliterated in just moments. Her material loss was insignificant in comparison to her emotional distress at the sight of her father's death. I spent days thinking about her, what she must have felt, what she must have endured for days, weeks or even years. The shadows behind her letters and words reflect the wounds she still carries within her. Though I am a fairly positive person, I must candidly admit that sometimes I just cannot fathom how some people survive such circumstances without losing their sanity or most importantly their humanity. Words on white paper describe and reflect the human being who wrote them. And so as the reader of the story, I must serve a multi-purpose role. I am audience. I am conductor. I am orchestra. And I applaud and cheer on.

We should tell these stories, express our sorrow or describe our joy. In my classroom, I hope my students find refuge and that it serves as their sanctuary, a place to explore, fail and learn, and as we enter this place together, I want them to know that I too am a fragile life long learner. And so why do I write? I write because it is in the words that I replenish myself. It is in the words that I find oxygen and life. The words allow me to express who I am, what I am and what I feel. They provide me a stage, a platform to reveal my essence. The words on white paper are permanent, everlasting and a mirror of my soul.


  1. I am stunned by the passion in your writing here. I am so moved to see and experience it. The very feeling I felt coming out of you is the very feeling that COMPELS me to write. I cannot NOT write. :) Such a beautiful story of your reading the papers and weeping. I am glad that you are still that open to life. I glad. Do you know why? Because I am also that open. Thank you for this raw, heartfelt, and beautiful sharing. Thank you from my heart. Robin Easton

  2. Thanks for the kudos, The Fearless Blog. The whole Idea of “The Anatomy…” is to get people to think about writing, and all the wonderful stories they do have to tell. It’s those stories that make us special and unique and give our lives meaning and our understandings significance.

    Each and every person’s life, by sharing it, brings them closer to other people, for despite our circumstances, we all want the same things. It’s by writing, and honest writing that we can come to know ourselves better, and the people around us. I’, glad the people around you invoke this feeling, be it students or other people you meet; the stories of others are our best teachers; we must first learn to listen, and then learn that our stories, no matter what we might think of them, are important to other people, for the same reasons theirs are important to us.

    Thanks so much for the praise and link; I love it when other people look on writing and see it with the same reverence that I do. Maybe reverence is a strong word, but when you see what people can endure, and the humility with which their words make the page you can’t help but feel overwhelmed, in just the same way that coming around a bend and being struck by the ocean with sun shining from its surface leaves you awestruck.

    Great post, Thanks again for the kudos; I look forward to seeing future posts- you inspire, as always = )


  3. "Why do you write? Yes, you. Quickly don't think about it. Why do you write? No, I don't mean why do you write when you have to write. I mean why do you write when you want to write?"

    I write because I love writing my thoughts and feelings down on paper. I can describe better on paper more easily than I can verbalize my thoughts.

    You might say that I keep a file cabinet of my memories.

    Thank you for your words, I think I will write something now.

  4. "We should tell these stories, express our sorrow or describe our joy"...Mme. Fearless you are "spot on". I still believe that the greatest story ever told is yet to be written. Thank you for being who you are and "fishin'" out some of these stories. You're the greatest! - Nards

  5. As a child all the things that I experienced are on paper. I've written journals that I still have but never go back to. I keep them not for myself but for my children. I don't want them to know what happened yet but one day I do. I don't believe in lying to my children. I want them to understand why I get upset when I see things. I write because it got me through some tough times. My grammer isn't the greatest. Sometimes my punctuation is off. When I write it's because of my emotions. I tend to be very emotional. I don't write because I have to or need to. I write because sometimes paper is my best friend.

  6. I once told my oldest son that he would not disappear if he were quiet. Now I understand. I think I would simply not be if I did not write.


  7. Why do you write? The answer to this
    question is unique to each writer.For me,I write for my own amusement.I write some poetry when I have strong feeling about something, and I specially write when I want to express feelings for someone. I love to read good writing such as Mrs
    Cueto's Fearless blogs etc.So I like to write because I write myself, I create myself, and I express myself.

  8. Gosh, I guess I'm the odd-ball here, but I'm pretty much burned out with writing. I've been doing this, fiercely, all of my adult life--7,000,000 words in Bowker's Books In Print, 7 books in one year during my heyday of the 1970s.

    Oh, I still enjoy it, but to a reduced, measured level. Only 60 blog pieces in my first year of blogging, not enough to fill even one skinny book.

    But, I sure enjoy reading about the pleasures this gives to y'all.
    This was once me.

  9. Namaste' Fearless one, thank you for such an amazing post. This truly spoke volumes, an entire novel in but a few paragraphs of raw honesty. You truly realize how we are surrounded with an infinate and energy and greatness, no matter.

    You are reaching out with your words and thus a part of your soul.

    When you reach out...what is greater than that.




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