Through the years, the same question continues to be asked: why do you write?
“To find my bliss,” I answer,” to be happy.”
A wise professor once told me: “don’t write what you know. Look outward and examine the world.” And so, I slowly evolved into a voyeur who came to understand the joy from observing life around me. Writing is steeped in solitude, and staring at a blank page not only evokes fear, but inertia — the writer’s two worst agonies. I found my answer in the joy of writing by being a traveler to places beyond my own experiences, and through my mind’s eye, become new each day. Perhaps, it is the “becoming new” that gives the daily process of writing the authenticity it needs, not only to succeed, but to remain fresh and invigorating.
I have been writing all my life. When I wasn’t putting words on paper, I was composing in my head. Addicted to black and white composition notebooks at an early age, I discovered the wonder of words even before they reached the page. Writing, I soon discovered, came from a place deep inside that grew into something else. At eight, I wrote short stories. At ten, a poem I scrolled was read aloud in a school assembly. Twelve found me working on one act plays acted out by friends to willing audiences, who applauded my determination by paying me a quarter to witness these weekend performances. As a budding adolescent, and to the amusement of family members, I began my memoir as though I had already experienced a life worth documenting.
It was clear to me that writing was to play a major role in my life, and was pivotal to my happiness. But, it wasn’t until I attended college that a professor, who read my papers on a weekly basis, offered his words of wisdom. “Move beyond yourself,” he said, “And live.” And therein is the answer to how I work through the deadlines, the writer’s block, and the fear of the unknown: I write my life. By doing so, I discover daily, the exquisite, inexplicable rewards of all that writing has to offer.
My particular genre: humor, introduced me to a world beyond myself. For it is through humor and reflective essays, I have cultivated a satirical view of life specializing in the little mundane moments of everyday that makes facing my weekly deadlines a formidable challenge. I don my “funny glasses” and begin viewing life through a distorted lens, and by doing so, I came to understand an important truth: writing comes down to the fact that we are all human, and that life is simply about exercising that right by examining the world-at-large.
Thirty-two- years ago, when I first began writing my weekly newspaper column, I was unaware of how my fodder would be continually fueled. “Move beyond yourself,” my professor’s words echoed, and thus began a journey into that yet unexplored, magical place: the view from the writer’s eyes.
Whether I am writing in restaurants where the din of the crowd provides the necessary white noise to stir my senses, or sequestered under a tree on green summer afternoons, I write. At my desk surrounded by the books I love, or lying among crumpled white sheets of paper, abandoned on a down comforter, I tend to the task of spilling words onto paper. Wherever my creative destinations take me, I work at perfecting my craft.
Years later, I reinvented myself once more. Embarking on unknown ground, I stood on the precipice of a new genre and forged ahead into an undiscovered territory: the writing of fiction. I worked diligently, and two years later accepted a two-book offer from Random House, proving once again, that time or age does not need to hold us back. Exploration has no limits — personal dreams know no boundaries. Another book is in the works.
Being a writer means following in the footsteps of those who came before me, and those who works have yet to be written. It is, after all, the process of writing where I hone my daily fulfillment and joy.
The fiber of my being can be found each day when I face the blank page.
I pick up a pen, or peer upon my computer screen, and create worlds that spring forth, as I indulge in the grandest writer’s tool of all: the constant yet ever-changing muse called life from where my imagination takes flight.
Westporter Judith Marks-White shares her humorous views monthly in the Westport News. She can be reached via email at email@example.com or at judithmarks-white.com.