I often encounter words and phrases while reading that make me stop and reread in wonder. As a writer, I confess that I wish I had thought of that particular description, sentence, analogy to attain this perfect synergy. Many of the writers have mastered that admirable juxtaposition of words.
Familiar with the "writing game" I wonder: why do writers write? Why do we subject ourselves to frustration and rejection? This question has plagued writers and others when, at times, writing is akin to self-flagellation. Despite distractions, perfection in this assembly of words is our goal.
No matter what we write, there are challenges. Proper word choices, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are but a few as we aim for cohesiveness and authenticity. In fiction, we become so involved in our characters' lives that "they" take over our own, and they and the plot must be believable and compelling.
Our emotions spill over into writing and we often feel as if we are on a roller coaster while striving to fulfill a need to paint a picture with words that entices the reader to read on, turn the page.
Sleep is interrupted because a thought or a dream entices us with words that simply must be written down. And when the words stare back, they further challenge us to slog through the process of editing, rewriting and more rewriting until it is our best effort, we hope.
I admit to 10 rewrites for this column. A waiting game then follows after we submit our work. Doubts set in as we search our mail or e-mail for a response.
At this juncture, it is time to kick back, get on with our lives and realize that we cannot take ourselves too seriously. There is always next time. There is an upside to this seemingly tortuous journey. For those who work at home, we can bang at the keyboard any time while wearing pajamas.
Given the hard work involved in writing, why do writers write? I posed the question to members of my local writers' group. Twenty answers were published during my stint as editor of our newsletter.
Here are a few: "I wish to connect to a part of me that needs to pull away from the deafening noise and distress of the world." "It's in my blood." "To see my words come alive." "Scenes come to me in my quiet moments. I need to tell my stories." "To release the words tap dancing in my head where the mundane begets fantasy." "It's less expensive than a therapist." From our mystery writer: "I'm one of those people who just can't commit a murder without bragging about it."
Last spring I found another source answering that old question at a most unexpected place -- John F. Kennedy High School. In a program called "Awakening Artists," 38 students read their poetry and prose.
I felt awed by the depth and scope of the students' work. I saw joy, enthusiasm, laughed at their humor and heard love for the written word in the aspiring writers. I was moved by the angst and sadness revealed by several.
Jacob, my grandson, read his poem expressing his feelings during a difficult family period. His brother, Joshua, was in intensive care on life support at Children's Hospital. I could not contain my tears. He shared, bared his emotions. This is what I found in all of the students' readings.
Why do writers write? Because, regardless of age, all writers feel this need to tell a story, convey a message, share, to write. It's just that simple.
On a happy note, Joshua has recovered.