The urge to write can come from out of nowhere and when one least expects it.
Buried somewhere in my jumble of notebooks and scraps of paper containing random thoughts, personal notes and attempts at journals, is a long-ago reflection I felt so compelled to get out of my head and onto paper that I rushed home to get started on it. Couldn’t wait. I can’t find it now — at least 50 years have passed since I wrote it — so you will be spared its actual text. Here’s the gist of it: The faces of the people as they departed the public event I had attended were curiously downcast, even vacant, it’s fair to say. Little expression. What fascinated me at the time was the fact that they all were filing out of Miami’s Orange Bowl stadium where their home team, the Miami Dolphins, had just won an exciting football game. Why were they all so glum? That bothered me, and I had to write about it. Had to.
And that’s important. Personalities vary, and certainly lifetimes of dissimilar experiences make us different from one another. That’s true, but I believe — no, make that stronger — I’m certain of this: All of us at times experience an urge to express ourselves in writing. To get it out of our heads and onto paper, or if you wish, the lighted screen. But we don’t do it. What’s holding us back?
The population of people who love to read is huge, all over the world. From trashy bodice-rippers to well-researched, thought-provoking literature, we love to read what someone else has written. Love it. We love best the material that feels authentic to us, real-life, personal. It is irresistible. Such writing draws us into its world and plops us right there, in the scene, a seat at the table. What a treat.
You can’t write like that, you say? Balderdash. Here’s a suggestion. The next time you have an experience that changes your mood, write about it. As soon as you can, while the feeling is fresh. It could be anything. A cashier is rude to your or especially kind. Someone slips into the parking space just as you were heading for it. That play or concert you just attended left you in tears it was so good. You just heard about a cancer diagnosis in a dear friend. Your child’s school grades are up. Your spouse or partner just surprised you with an unexpected gift or forgets your birthday.
If you think no one else would be interested, you’re mistaken. Just tell it as it happened and how it made you feel. Others will read it, and you will have given them that pleasure. The act of writing it down becomes even more important as we age. Coming behind us are children, grandchildren, neighbors and friends younger than us who will not have shared our experiences. Never used a rotary dial phone, never experienced black and white television, never seen a washing machine with a wringer attached, never lived through a world war.
Your writing will offer them joy and information they can’t get any other way. It will enrich their lives. Yours, too.