Why I Write (Part 2)

October 25, 2023

I’m not a young guy. Been around more than six decades. But there’s something Shakespeare wrote that I find true about writing that defies the years. He said, \”All love is young.\” I write for many reasons but one is that I love the process and as Shakespeare put it, that which we love inspires a youthfulness, a vigor, an inspiration to be fully alive. I imagine I will write until my last breath hopefully at my desk and prayerfully many years from now, still in love with it and with a youthful soul that defies my body.

So writing keeps me young and it also stills my soul. So I write because it’s a type of therapy for me. I’m normally high strung, always on the go, so stillness has always been an obscure practice better suited for my ex-hippie, philosopher friends-I have a few that I promise to work into a future book. The practice of writing, and here I’m talking about sitting at a keyboard pounding it out, requires a stillness, a focus, a complete attention grabber. Unfortunately for me, at any given moment I’ll have multiple ideas swirling about my mind, some getting pinned down, most colliding into useless contortions that require equally useless unraveling; this can be obviously stressful. So stilling my mind, finding straight lines in my thoughts, stringing together ideas into a story, or allowing my heart to feel the depths of a character’s pain, are all sedatives that still my soul.

I have learned, a little late, that there is great power in being still. Only in the stillness, in the quiet can we hear the whispers of God, the promises, the encouragements, the corrections, and even a character’s next line.

Lastly, I write because I believe good storytelling can alter thinking. How? The best stories reach into the hidden places of the soul where real change springs from. For thirty years, in an abstract sense, my legal career was about trying to change people’s hearts, both the victimized and the perpetrators. That is, I wanted to make our world a better place, a safer place, which is the general function of the criminal justice system. But while the system is absolutely necessary it rarely can reach the places of real healing and redemption, those places where real change happens. Then, later in my career I came across two quotes that fundamentally changed the course of my life. The first was from Scottish legislator and philosopher, Andrew Fletcher, the second anonymous. \”Let others write the laws of my country, I wish to write its songs,\” and \”Sometimes to get to the heart of a man, we must go through the backdoor of his imagination.\” I knew that my time as part of the judiciary was over. I did the best I could, now a new path was calling.

I mean I was in the battle, sleeves rolled up, I was making a difference, I thought. And I was, here and there. But it was too little, too late. I felt like the boy with his finger in a crack in a giant dam seeing a thousand more begin to leak. Maybe the answer is more little boys’ fingers, maybe rebuilding the dam, but for me it was to write stories, venturing into the creative world, into the imagination, through the gateway that leads to the soul.

So, I write because it revitalizes me, because it stills my restless soul, and most importantly because I believe it is my call in life. For all you aspiring writers out there, you may feel like you’re in the deep end, drowning in ineptitude, pulled down by uncertainty. The best thing you could do is to go back to the shallows and stand on the ground and remember your why.