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Why I Write

I have been writing since I learned how to form a letter with a pencil. But it wasn’t until today that I asked myself why. I was four years old when I would watch my sister the artist write cursive. Whether it came from seeing her creativity with a pencil, or the irresistible desire to express myself, I taught myself to write with a sense of urgency.

But what does that have to do with becoming a writer? As it turns out, plenty. While like most writers I now use a keyboard, originally it was the sensation of the pen meeting paper that inspired me. Wrapping my little fingers around a pen felt like folding them around a guitar neck, which I began studying around that time. The strings meeting my fingers became akin to a pen meeting paper.

Not just any string, not just any pen, and not just any paper.

When a line of notes is connected and played consecutively to form a complete sound or musical thought, it’s exactly like letters strung together to make a whole phrase. In cursive, the letters touch each other; a confluence of connected letters, intimately forming words and ultimately thoughts. These were seminal life lessons for me.

When most people have an idea they are quick to then jot it down. For me it works in reverse. Simply holding a pen to quality paper sparks in me ideas for things to write about. During my twenties, I progressed to writing on cocktail napkins. I am of the opinion that I’ve done some of my best work on bar napkins, even if it was inconvenient to later stash stacks of them in my coat pockets.

In today’s terms, I have evolved into using the right keyboard. Different keyboards make different types of clacking sounds, and as a musician this seems to figure into my writing equilibrium. When my fingers hit the keystrokes, it has to feel a certain way in order for my thoughts to flow.

Coincidentally, tonight I heard on the news that children will no longer be required to learn cursive writing in school. I thought about how when letters touch one another they share a literary intimacy. The words and the thoughts they form then look cohesive. Then I realized that those children, devoid of the intimacy of writing a cursive word, would probably learn to simulate those effects with different fonts. In the end, I suppose it will come down to diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.

 

Water Water Everywhere
 

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Wednesday, 08 December 2021

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