These Words Help Me To Be


Being surrounded by writers in a meeting can be liberating, never mind the huge egos that invariably come with the territory. Maybe it’s really just the comforting thought that there are other people in the same room who understand the writing discipline, who have tread that sadly familiar path of not quite finding the right words from the mad, roiling tangle in our brains.

And the thing about writers meeting in a room is that it is always quiet. But the silence is neither awkward, nor deafening. I imagine the words dancing around our heads, livid little letters in strings and ribbons, half-formed sentences and phrases, curling, twisting, turning, tossing, twirling, spinning; typewriter fonts and scratchy pencil scribbles and neat elegant Helvetica; it is never quiet. The conversations are in the air, noiseless and without sound, invisible fingers tapping an invisible keyboard, imaginary hands scrawling the next line and letter. We are never quiet.

Why do writers write? It’s a rhetorical question really, much akin to asking ‘Why do dogs bark?’ or ‘Why do fish swim?’; it’s more than self-expression, the desire to inform or educate, or self-actualisation. I can only say that we write, simply because we do. Perhaps it’s a discovery of self.  An unveiling of personal truth. Or it could just be that when we write, we find ourselves set free from the bodies and clothes we inhabit, from the inadequacy of expression set in our faces, mannerisms, and tics; the I that I am becomes real, filling out the invisible outline that is my body, this heavy sack of flesh and bone that is strange, alien and unfamiliar.

Do we write to be, or to feel? Is this pedestrian activity of self-expression really necessary for us to be able to seize that fleeting, elusive sense of fulfilment or actualisation? Does this nebulous exercise give shape and form to our perception of uniqueness and reality?

No wonder writers, or rather the self-styled ones, are egomaniacs.

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