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Archive for December 22nd, 2010

Writing on Napkins

Part I

Writers really do that, you know — write on napkins. French fries scatter across the table. Conversations stop in mid-sentence as I stop to jot down a quiet gift that floated in from the mystic muse. Coffee sits cold and forgotten as a few words string together into three paragraphs, then continue onto napkins 2 and 3 into a short memoir. All of this innocently sparked by my eye catching a woman’s hat that reminded me of the one my mother wore — everywhere.

Everywhere was definitely Sunday morning church, every Sunday morning. That hat still turns up in black and white photos of the ’40s and ’50s from most family special occasions. She didn’t get a new Easter hat; she got a new Easter dress to go with the hat she loved so much. Then, that hat was mistakenly sold in a Church Bazaar put on by the Women’s Faith Society. From that time on, I could never comment on the charms of her other hats without hearing how precious and comforting the sold hat had been to her.

Now how could it be that in the new millennium of 2000 plus 10 years, a new style could remind me of mom’s favorite hat she had loved so dearly? I don’t know the answer to that but my hand automatically grabs the nearest napkin and begins to shape words on it. These words won’t be there for me later. They must be attended to now as they come so that I can pick up the thread of the memory and find the content later.

This blog is about the way of the writer. By writer, I mean the men and women young and old who put a pen to paper and their fingertips to keyboards for any one of the uncountable reasons that exist: articles to complete, column deadlines to meet, a screenplay to polish, a poem that begins forming somewhere in the heart and needs a place on the page. Writers write school papers from elementary and high school and continue in both undergraduate and post-graduate college levels, striving for brilliance and a great grade. Musicians compose lyrics and melodies for concert performances. Published writers are recognized, accclaimed and validated for their talents.

Yet there are many who live as writers for other reasons that are personally satisfying and even necessary. They write letters that touch a person’s heart and are long remembered for doing so. They write letters to a distant, but loving, grandfather who walks with an arthritic gait down to the mail box in expectation of receiving his granddaughter’s letter. They write to an older brother in the Service, striking up the first meaningful brother-sister dialogue they’d never had while living in the same home growing up together. A young mother, who needed to know about the childhood mysteries surrounding her own mother’s death at her birth, writes to the best friend of her birth mother and begins to unravel silences of old through this rare voice who could give testimony to her mother’s life. I wrote all of these letters.

With the advent of the popular world-wide web blog, it is obvious that writers are writing as a way of life, published or unpublished. Blog writers can gain an audience for their voice and writing form in a most accessible way. This also goes to prove, we will do what we love with passion and freedom regardless of monetary compensation or even lack of it. It simply is part of the way we live our life — a big part.

Many people live a way of writing as a tool of organization in their life and their work. A grocery list structures the visit to the market and gives order to the weekly menu, saving resented trips back to the market. In the business world, writing outlines, plans and proposals that win the powers-to-be’s attention and support pave the way for their own advancement and prosperity.

Writing for me is often a way of prayer and I count it as one of my most important prayer practices. This is where I will pick up this blog tomorrow as I am such a newbie to the techy part of getting just this far that I will stop for now. I believe someone very special to me is awaiting his dinner.  And I have to see if I can get this much to appear on my first blog.

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