Discover more from CRAFT TALK
Why Write Anything
In the spring some nice men spent about six weeks building a screened-in porch on my house. I was not quite prepared for how much it would change my life in that I am only interested in sitting on it and going nowhere else, especially in the mornings and evenings when it is cooler, but also, frankly, whenever, it is just so pleasant to be there, on this porch. Who needs a social life when you have a porch? What is a “bar” or a “restaurant” or a “cafe” — sure, these things exist, I know, and there are people there that I could meet, but I’ll just be over here on the porch by myself if anyone needs me. It was nice knowing you.
In the early mornings I wake up most days and go directly to the porch to meditate. The sky is still dark. All I can hear are chickens and crows and occasionally a car driving by on the street in front of the house. The dog sits with me, which is nice. Sometimes I’m clear-headed and just use my meditation to set myself up for the day and sometimes I go into it with a question about my life and sometimes I go into it with a question about my writing and sometimes I go into it wondering what I should say to all of you.
I do not force my brain in one direction or another, but I do hope that it will give me a nice simple answer. I guess it’s a kind of writing prompt I’m looking for sometimes, but also I’m just looking for a solution to a problem that already exists. But honestly, anytime I can just come up even with one good sentence I feel completely satisfied.
What is that sentence for? It can be for so many things. It used to be cool just to come up with a good tweet every day. But Twitter is mostly broken now. We had it for years, for better or for worse and now it’s broken. It doesn’t matter, I sometimes think. It was just a toy. But of course it does, because it was also a way we talked to each other, connected with strangers, so it wasn’t just a toy. It was a communication device. Now it’s like someone dropped your phone in the toilet.
Still, for a little longer, I keep trying to use it.
Social media lets you be quick and glib and funny and genuine but also sometimes mean-spirited and thoughtless and sloppy. Some people are so good at social media it’s as if they have invented a new art form. (They have.) I think they mean it, whatever they’re saying, creating, displaying. I hope they will find the right place for their talents as we see the old venues be destroyed or at least altered so as to be unusable.
If you were someone who was on twitter, I think you must forget it. Eventually we will all quit it if we haven’t already. Put our words somewhere else. It won’t work the same, feel the same. But we will still have good ideas. And we can still find each other. Don’t ask me where. I don’t know where. But I think we will all be able to figure it out.
Now I have this letter, for example. I take it seriously, even though it’s not the same medium, and making it takes longer. They’re still written on the fly, of course. Quickly produced based on a new idea. Maybe I spend a few hours on them. But they are good hours. Morning hours. Focused hours. Sincere hours. I don’t phone it in. I think about what I want to say. Whatever I say here, I mean it. The letters are more thoughtful than tweets and less thoughtful than my books which take years to write. My literary hierarchy. But whatever the form, I mean what I say.
Anyway that was it, this morning. I could have whispered these words just to the chickens and the crows and the new little dog. But I heard this, and it sounded like something I should say to you instead.
Why write if you don’t mean it? Why write anything if you don’t have an intent? What are you writing and why are you writing it?