14 May 2012

Priming the Pump: Writing in Spite of Ourselves

One of the arguments we often use for not writing is this:   "I have nothing original to say.  Whatever I might say, someone else has already said it, and better than I will ever be able to."  This, however, is not a good argument for not writing.  Each human person is unique and original, and nobody has lived what we have lived.
~ Henri Nouwen

othing original to say. That sums up my main writing bogeyman.  He is one nasty character.  Always jumping out at the most inopportune moments.  Usually when I find a few quite moments to write, the tea is hot, the chair is comfy (but not toooo comfy!), the page is blank, and the pen is full.  I raise my hand and


“So you think you can write?  You can’t write.  You were terrible in grammar class!  Besides, even if you do have a way with words, who’s going to read them?  There are more experienced people in the world, with advanced degrees, who truly are the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald.   You aren’t even a second class writer!”

But I have all these ideas.  All these feelings. Experiences.  And I know that when I have shared myself through the written word in the past, it has been warmly received.  So there is incentive to continue to write and post and publish my essays and poetry, if only I can look past that hulking bulk of negativity!

Added to that, I cannot NOT write.  I am always scratching away in some notebook or tap-tapping at my computer.  Some of it, granted, is pure trash.  But even the trash isn’t wasted.  It serves as fuel to continue writing.  Because that is the key: just write, damn it! 

Not many remember the old way of getting water into the house – heck, I don’t “remember” it either, but I have seen them, and would kill for one ~ bright, fire engine red preferably.

Do you know how to get water out of one of these beauties?  You prime the pump ~ meaning, you have to pump it over and over and even though nothing is coming out, if you keep at it, the air in the valves is displaced, and water takes its place.  Eventually, the valves fill up until the water comes gushing out.

That is writing. 

You have to prime the pump and just write, even if it is nonsense.  Because eventually, a story will come gushing out.  And that story is your story, a story that no one but you can tell.  And told in your voice, a voice no one else can speak with.

And it is a story worth telling and worth hearing.

So, be gone, bogeyman!  I have stories to tell.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela

What is your writing bogeyman?  And how do you banish him?
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