I sit at a table and I reach for a pad of paper and a pen. I sit at a computer and automatically click to open the word processing program. My empty fingers itch for an good fountain pen or even an antique dip pen and a bottle of ink.
Sometimes I’m funny. Sometimes I’m serious. I may be disgusted, irreverent, playful, reflective, or melancholy. I can be imaginative or philosophical. I teach. I lecture. I question. I explain. I research. I investigate.
I have pretty leather-bound journals scattered all over my life, and all of them have writing in them. I write my dreams, my thoughts, my observations. I write my memories to save for my son. I write the news, to save for posterity – if there ever is posterity. I write love notes to whomever I feel love for at the moment. I write letters in those journals – letters to old high school teachers, to friends from the past and present, to family, to grandchildren not yet born. They will never be sent or read by anyone, but I write them anyway.
No subject is sacred. I have strong opinions. My opinions can be changed by compelling evidence and cogent arguments, but my positions are stated clearly and occasionally even with footnotes. I don’t reach my strong opinions in a vacuum. I want links, supporting evidence, and documentation to support a position.
The dreams I live at night are vivid. They form the basis for my short stories. I have lots of them. I doubt I will publish very many of them to this blog. They are beyond science fiction and fantasy, sometimes.
I love to write.
So, I write.
I have rules about my writing, and I trust when there is debate in the comments to my blog, others respect these guidelines.
I write to communicate ideas.
But, I can’t abide rudeness. Points can be made without resorting to name-calling, taunting, or other grade-school behaviors. Threats, harassment, and general nastiness never persuaded anyone of anything other than the rudeness of the person threatening, harassing, or being generally nasty. I am literally and figuratively unable to hear someone who uses these techniques to communicate.
I write to persuade.
Pundits, politicians, bloggers, and others who have an “Us vs. Them” mentality when it comes to making their points lose credibility with me in a hurry. I love politics and I love discussing politics. Good political arguments must be as well documented as scientific arguments. It must appeal to logic and reason, not emotion and fear.
I write for respect.
Name calling, stereotyping, finger-pointing, and blaming an opposing political party or some other person irritate me beyond reason. They are as irritating as a fly or mosquito. Their buzz and their whine are not words but an annoyance to be swatted away without much of a thought as to their purpose. I do not respect those who engage in such behavior. I will never do it myself. Respect is critical to real communication.
I write to make a point.
As a lawyer I have to make arguments that make sense to the judge and jury, opposing counsel, and my clients, so I strive to be careful in crafting my arguments. I encourage feisty, vigorous debate, but the arguments should always be backed up with facts and wherever possible with citations. I can be persuaded, but only with facts and a coherent argument.
I write as a craft.
Proper grammar, punctuation, spelling are essential. This is not to say I don’t make mistakes, but I correct them the moment I see them. It’s difficult to proofread one’s own work, and as hard as I try there will be things I don’t catch. Technically good writing is the bare minimum of what I expect of myself. I wish it was as important to others. I am fond of saying that my dream date would be with a guy who would drive me around and carry the bucket of red paint for me to dip my brush into so that I might correct the misplaced apostrophes on all the signs in public places. Does such a piratical Prince Charming exist? And will he carry a ladder tall enough for billboards?
I write to write well.
Style makes good writing great. I want to write with a style that stays with my reader. I want to write with a style that makes my point in a way that inspires reflection. I want to write with a style that inspires a belly-laugh. I want to write with a style that is readable and fun, readable and educational, readable and poignant.
I write because I have to write.
It’s me. My compulsion to write will never go away. It is as much a part of me as the knuckles on my fingers and the gray wisps in my hair. Even if I hide my compulsion to write it is still there, pushing me, moving my fingers unconsciously toward the pen, to pick it up.