Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Permanence of Words

A topic I've thought about quite a bit and have written around, but never quite about, is why I like writing.

Now, this blog is all about writing (note the blog title) and I've gone beyond the book reviews and magazine article links a few times to get at what I'm doing with the blog. Perhaps it's even been a somewhat annual process... with Like To Write Stuff: Why & How Thus Far from August 2008 and Wherefore the Blog... Again December of last year.

So I've certainly thought about what I'm doing with the blog and have established what it's about, but have not (least I don't think) written about why I like writing.

The answer to this is arrived at through a bit of a progression...

Starting off, I'd say that I think everyone should have a thing that's of import to them. When I say that, I'm thinking of that thing being something greater than simply liking a given sports team (as Joel Klein wrote of in this Time Magazine piece (which I posted about here) or being say... good at video games. I'm thinking more along the lines of something with some heft and meaning to it.

Now, this isn't to marginalize the huge significance of being a good parent or friend as someone's thing, but me thinks there's a lot to be said for people having something that serves as a creative outlet. Some people's creative type thing is to paint, some to make movies, some to excel at a particular sport... I simply like the idea of my thing being words.

When I think about words, the feeling I have is that they matter (least the ones that are put together into a meaningful order). They influence, they entertain and when you take 'em and put them down on a page, they acquire permanence. There's a certain gravitas about something that remains behind in written form... whether that be on a printed page or out on the interwebnet superhighway of information. Either way it's stored and delivered, something written down leaves a metaphorical vapor trail.

It may be a crazy good trail in the neighborhood of F. Scott Fitzgerald level prose or it may be less than one of the great books, but either way, words written down have permanence.

This concept of permanence very much relates to what I've tried to do thus far with this blog... to create a record both of good writing I've come across and why I like it (and have that be hopefully in a somewhat entertaining fashion). This record may be something that someone else reads on the blog and finds of note, it may be something that I look back on to remember cool stuff I've read, or it may be something the the chillen see in future years and find interesting that their Pa did.

Now, in terms of more traditional narrative writing (fiction or non-fiction both), would I love to be able to at some point answer the "what do you do?" question by saying "I'm a writer?"

Darn tootin' I would. Even if that doesn't take place, though, I like words. I like what they can do and I like creating a record of myself in relation to words... both ones arranged well by others and my own original ones.

Yep... I like to write (and read... and link to good) stuff.