After an extremely busy – and very stressful – few weeks, I sat down yesterday to pick up my pen, and reconnect with my characters. It felt like coming home. Almost instantly, I was able to let go of everything that had been causing me ‘grief’ and to be in a different world. Bliss!
Rosie and I walked up through the allotments this morning, on our way to the park, watching the grey mist swirling off the sea and encroaching the top of the hill, before it gently – oh, so gently – turned itself into a cascade of drizzle-cum-shower-cum-deluge.As we walked and listened to the drips and plops around us, I spent a little time, as I do most weeks, dipping into the ideas that were waiting in my head about what I might use as a jumping-off point for this week’s blog.
For some reason, Buffy came to mind – Buffy as in Vampire Slayer. I haven’t thought about that show in years, but it was always one of my favourites. Coming at a time when I was struggling with the world I seemed to have created around me, it constantly gave me hope and inspiration, and quickly became one of my weekly highlights.
This morning, I found I was sad that nothing of quite that calibre seems to be around any more, and I wondered what Joss Whedon was up to these days. Bless Google! I discovered a whole world of brilliant quotes from the series, as well as from the creator. One in particular struck me, or more accurately, several of them did, but I’ve chosen one for this blog reflection.
This is Joss talking about why he writes:
I write to give myself strength. I write to be the characters I am not. I write to explore all the things I am afraid of.
These are powerful and moving reasons to write. I can certainly identify with at least two of them. I decided to try a list of my own. This is what I came up with.
I write to feel well. I have become increasingly conscious that on the days when I don’t write – and there are a few, usually due to other commitments – I rarely feel as well as I do when I start the day by writing. It’s almost as though it allows me to clear out everything that’s got clogged up inside, desperate to be expressed and ‘get out there’. I’m invariably better for that release.
I write to reflect the things that are beautiful about this world. I hear too many people complaining about life, being miserable about what they don’t have or critical of what they do, missing out on opportunities because they cannot see past the rain or the fog or the cold, regretting things that happened so long ago they can barely remember them, wishing that life was different yet remaining reluctant to change anything. So I like to write about the love, the joy and the grace that permeates the world, and is simply there for the taking.
I write to inspire. I really enjoy reflecting on the ‘big’ ideas – about ‘life, the universe and everything’ – because that reflection always takes me to positive and unexpected places where I discover things I didn’t know before, or maybe things I didn’t know I knew before. And writing my way into these ponderings invariably inspires me, and maybe, I hope, inspires others in its wake.
I write to have fun. I’ve spent too much of my life not having fun – for all sorts of reasons, some legitimate, some not. So now it’s time to find out how to live well and enjoy myself. Writing does that. I love constructing sentences, finding new or alternate words, discovering unusual ways to say things, creating new scenarios, meeting unexpected challenges.
But mostly, I write to tell stories. Stories that do all of the above. And all at once, if that’s possible. I am nothing if not a story-teller. Ask anyone who’s ever tried to ring me for a brief conversation. I can take the smallest, most insignificant event, and turn it into a full-blown story, worthy of anyone’s attention, with special effects and excessive exclamation marks – and I take the greatest delight in doing so.
Stories are the backbone of a cohesive culture. They shape our thoughts, express our feelings. They teach us truths and reveal falsehoods. They show us what’s possible and challenge us with what’s not – until we go there. It is stories that tell us about s/heros and inspire us to become one ourselves. It is stories that help us to recognise who we are and who we want to be. It is stories that remind us where we’ve been.
What a privilege to be part of that heritage.