2.10.2009

Put it on the Page

"I was starting to wonder if I was ready to be a writer, not someone who won prizes, got published and was given the time and space to work, but someone who wrote as a course of life. Maybe writing wouldn't have any rewards. Maybe the salvation I would gain through work would only be emotional and intellectual. Wouldn't that be enough, to be a waitress who found an hour or two hidden in every day to write?"- Ann Patchett, Truth and Beauty

When I first read these words in a book given to me by my mother-in-law, they shook me to my core. At the time I was holding down two waitressing jobs and barely managing to gather myself for our gig at the Farmers Market on the weekend. I was exhausted, unfulfilled, and until that moment had forgotten what had been missing from my life: my writing. It wasn't too long before I realized how badly I needed to return to "putting it on the page."

Years later, I came across this quote in a book I was reading:

"So I've started being vigilant about watching my thoughts all day, and monitoring them. I repeat this vow about 700 times a day: 'I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.' ... You may not come here anymore with your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of thoughts, with your warships of thoughts -- all these will be turned away. Likewise, any thoughts that are filled with angry or starving exiles, with malcontents and pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assassins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and seditious stowaways -- you may not come here anymore, either. Cannibalistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be screened carefully, for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is only now beginning to cultivate tranquility." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Once again I found myself taking a step back, coming to a realization: I will never be able to downplay the power and importance the written word holds in my life. Quite simply, it is the only thing in the entire world that makes absolute sense to me.

Last night I had the opportunity to see these two inspiring women, their legs curled and feet tucked within the cushions of overstuffed armchairs, discussing their lives, their friendship, and the act of writing. Yet another brilliant event brought to us by The Portland Arts & Lectures series, and I cannot help but be filled with gratitude for it. ALL OF IT.


4 comments:

Metolius Mark * Computer God said...

Oh that was good....that was really, REALLY good!

Jaynel said...

Elizabeth Gilberts writings were a wonderful inspiration for me to put my everyday thoughts on paper as well and filter any negativity throughout my day. It's nice to see a common understanding of this one important act (filtering/writing) for mental clarity. Even if we are clear across the US :) Happy writings!

12th Man Training Table said...

Reminds me of a Garrison Keillor line: the worst thing a writer can do is have something important to say. Better than he needs to write than that he wants to write.

muddywaters said...

Good stuff. For me it's just about the act of writing, or as you say: Putting it on the page. Even if I just scratch drivel on paper, my day seems to be much better than when I don't write at all.

I also like the idea that writing goes against the grain a bit. Often introverted, quiet activities aren't always valued by the rest of society.