28 January 2009

Haiku MTSU

Great twisted trees stand
Watching over all of us
Protective and wise

18 January 2009


I write to think. I write to feel, and to express my feelings when I can't find another way, and to sort through my experiences to figure out what I feel. Because writing is my best voice, and because I sometimes need to write when I hadn't planned to, my environment and tools can be much more or less conducive to it at one time than another.

I can type much more quickly, and therefore legibly, than I can write, so my thoughts get laid down more as I have them if I'm in a position to open my laptop and start or continue some file that's just for that purpose. Otherwise, I'm fine with whatever I have on hand. There are some writing instruments that are more comfortable than others, but, while I do prefer ink to lead, and ballpoint to gel, I don't have a favorite pen. I did, in replenishing my stock for this semester, buy a couple of packages of the same kind of pens I used last semester, only because the memories of them were fresh enough to do so.

Decent ballpoint pens have become less plentiful than the much-touted gel pens, for which I have no use at all. I don't know who started the business about them making documents harder to forge/tamper with, but if they got a cut of the profits, they should be doing very well now. The truth is that if someone wants to mess with your stuff, they're going to mess with it; and if they're any good at it, gel ink isn't going to be the thing that shuts them down. It takes forever to dry, comparatively, and if it's on an envelope mailed when it's wet, you'd better not be crying to the post office when it doesn't get there.

I don't have any location that's better than any other, although the less I care about what I'm writing, the more quiet it has to be, because my brain will be looking for a way out. If I do care, if there are things in my brain or my heart screaming to be put on paper, then it doesn't matter where I am, what I write with, or what's going on around me. Nothing can drown out those words. I've been at a bar, listening to music I love, loud music, and been struck by some haiku, lyric, or topic for something bigger, and ended up coming home with two or three napkins, filled with uneven lines scratched out in the darkness with a pencil borrowed from a bartender.
If I care, my thoughts are my best outline, making it difficult to conform to academic standards that call for such things first. When I'm so lucky as to be assigned writing that calls on my passions, it must be allowed to just run out of me until I'm empty, and then I'll be able to tell you it's form. If I'm assigned something less "natural" to me, I can benefit from an outline, a sketch of what I'm supposed to draw, and then I frequently learn to care as I write, as I color in the picture I've been asked to show.

Often I need to "write my way into my story," as my last English teacher put it, after I produced a five-page rough draft for a two- to three-page essay. I write what probably amounts to a story about the story I'm trying to write. Then I go back and work my way through it, looking for the point, sort of a "Where's Waldo" in words, finding the best, most relevant piece of meat on the plate, cutting away more and more until there's nothing left that doesn't sustain the effort on its own. Sometimes I can't walk away until I've found it, extricated it from the surrounding noise, and preserved it carefully, so I know that I've said what I meant to say and won't have to start over, lost, another day.