The Right to Write

The Right to Write Blog. Jan 22, 2018The Right to Write

It's a New Year. We all come to the new year intending to climb through its window of opportunity, to commit to new goals and commitments that are often short-lived. But sometimes a commitment nags at us, demands our attention, is part of our DNA. 

I remember the distinct moment I committed to writing. It was not in January but in the fall of 2003. Some specifics of the day are lost, such as how I wore my hair or the clothes I had put on that day. I don't remember the precise date. What I do remember, with the clarity and sharpness, was the moment. That one marquee cut, brilliant, perfectly shaped diamond moment, when I owned what my heart had known for years. I committed to being a writer. It didn't matter to me that I was untrained, or busy, or that I had no idea how to proceed. I simply knew it as part of my purpose and that inner knowing changed the landscape of my life.

Not everyone is a writer, not every writer writes, and there are many published authors who would rather eat worms than write another word. But when a person's blood runs with a writer's DNA ... well, they write. Sometimes words find their way into a personal journal, other times into a sealed envelope that travels hundreds or thousands of miles to a loved one. With great effort, a writer uses the alphabet and entwines letters like lovers from 26 letters, weaving them into an 80,000-word mystery, or memoir, or novel or a book of poetry. It doesn't matter that it is shared, or published, or even seen by anyone. Many times it is filed away in a drawer or hidden atop a closet shelf from view. It is the rare writer who allows themselves to be seen or is known for her works. Then there are the writers known by name only and rarely (if ever) recognized in public. A writer's life is one of distinct anonymity, peculiar to the efforts of the craft. You might know the title of the article, book, or blog but often the writer's name fades into the abyss of the content as maybe it should.

So why write at all? Because we cannot ... not ... write. I know. This is a double negative.

But our sense of duty too often eats away at our desire to write. Even when writers willingly surrender time to the pen, too often they feel guilt's sharp edge cutting into the tendons that work for the hand, feeling a painful sting that tethers us to responsibility, suggesting that to write is a personal indulgence, a waste of time. But the right to write is invaluable, not only to the writer but to the freedom and evolution of humankind. A writer's words can keep the world honest. Words, even when suppressed, become superhuman agents of transformation. It's a weighty responsibility, It takes courage to write.

So please recognize you have the right to write. Write for the art, for the healing, for the light that will show you (and others) different ideas and perspectives. Make us laugh, cry, or better yet, reconsider life as we know it. There are so many other worlds to explore. Let your pen (or keyboard) lead the way.

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