Manifesto for writers

MSW typewriter

Typewriter / Michael Williamson

We will think of ourselves as writers, even when we’re not writing.
Or haven’t written for a while.
Or haven’t had our work published.
Or even sent our work out for consideration to be published.
Lately. Or maybe ever.
Because a writer is someone who writes*, even once in a while.
A writer is someone who goes to the page to work out thorny problems of the mind
and heart.
Even once in a while.

A writer is someone for whom words, images, lines show up at odd times.
Writers try to capture those words, images and lines when they show up at odd times.
Even if it means pulling to the side of the road and being late for the meeting.
Even if it means taking a notebook into the bathroom and scribbling there.
Even if it means speaking into our electronic devices or scrawling on the random
sticky note or 3×5 card.
Even if we don’t do anything further with those scribbles or spoken thoughts.
We lasso them out of the air, out of our heads and hearts.
We get them down.
They are there for us if we want them later.
Or not. It is up to us.

And when we do commit words to paper or other places, we will hold them gently.
We will not scold them or ourselves if they are not the words we wish we’d written.
Or the ones that were rattling around in our heads on their little hamster wheels.
We will be grateful that they showed up.
We will not feel envious or intimidated by someone else’s words that, when we hear
or read them, seem better/more polished/more thoughtful than ours.
We will admire those words that others give us.
We will admire those voices that are not ours.
We will allow ourselves to be inspired by them.
But we will also remember that our voices are perfect just as they are.
Even if they don’t sound perfect to us.
Even if we don’t believe that they are.

We will remember that when we read our words aloud, when we offer what we
have just written, that our words are a gift to our listeners.
We will remember that our words fall on others’ ears like song because we are
Good Writers.
Always. Even when we don’t feel that we are.
Even on the most difficult days.

We will remember that our words, as messy and imperfect as they showed up, may
give someone hope or feel understood or feel less alone.
We will remember that our words, as messy and imperfect as they showed up, may
be just what someone else needed to hear.
We may not always like what we have written because we didn’t like the place we had
to go to get it.*
But we will honor what showed up as what needed to be written in the here and now.

And when we are working on longer writing projects, we will hold ourselves kindly.
We will not chastise ourselves for not meeting our artificial deadlines or word count.
We will not feel bad when we cannot get to those writing projects as often or when we would like.
We will remember that we can walk away from that writing, if we choose.
We will remember that we can also pick it up again much later, if we choose.

But, more than anything, we will remember that our voices are worthy of the page.
We will remember that we write on the air every time we speak.
We will remember that the stories and poems, characters and memories, lie curled
inside us like happy dogs before a fire or cats on a warm blanket in winter.
We will remember the warmth inside us that fuels the writer.
Because we are writers if we never write another line.
We are alive if we never step out of this room again.**

Our words matter.
Our words have meaning to more people than we realize.
Our words touch people, move people, reassure people, make people laugh.
We will remember that sometimes what we wrote was not for us.
Sometimes what we have written saves another’s life.
Sometimes it saves our own.

We are writers who try to make sense of the world through writing.
May we never stop seeing ourselves as the poets and troubadours of the planet.
May we have faith that the words will never stop arriving, that they will always
be there for us.
May we always see ourselves as writers.
May we always be gentle with ourselves, writing alone or with others*, as long as we draw breath.

Amene.

 

 


*from Pat Schneider, “Writing Alone and With Others,” Oxford University Press, 2003.
**paraphrased from Tess Slesinger’s short story, “A Life in the Day of a Writer,” included in “On Being Told That Her Second Husband Has Just Taken His First Lover and Other Stories,” Quadrangle Books, 1971.

About janishaag

Writer, writing teacher, editor
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7 Responses to Manifesto for writers

  1. Thank you, beloved Jan. We need this. We need every line.

  2. Carolburnett says:

    Very nice Jan. Happy New Year.

    >

  3. buzzardnotes says:

    You’re right! Hugs and Happy New Year!

  4. Annie says:

    Love this, Jan! Thanks! (And Happy New Year from the Pacific Northwet!)

  5. Candace Cave says:

    Your words support my heart.
    Stunningly extraordinary “…remember that we write on the air every time we speak.”
    Deep bow of gratitude and love…

  6. Janet Johnston says:

    Thank you, Jan! It’s about deep acceptance and that’s love. And you are a love light in the world. Happy New Year!

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