“He could go anyplace he wanted with a sense of purpose. One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches and tramps around. Writing taught my father to pay attention…”
– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
I avoided writing whenever possible in high school and celebrated upon testing out of both required English composition courses in college. And now I love to write. For whatever reason I cannot seem to pick up the curveball in this game called life.
When my dad died in 1994 I experienced a strong urge to write—the first time I wanted to write an essay—and the urge returned not long afterward when the moms and dads of my elementary school daughter’s local soccer team acted completely insane and nearly drove me bonkers. Around then it occurred to me that I should not have prayed so fervently to test out of English composition. On both occasions writing was my way of processing the confusion of life.
And then, on the eighth day, God created a host of things like home computers and Microsoft Word, grammar check and spell check, print-on-demand publishing and blogs. I became a writer in spite of poor life decisions. Sort of like how Donald Trump became the president.
Somewhere along the way I purchased and devoured two wonderful books on the craft of writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and On Writing by Stephen King. Both are chock full of hilarious, practical, and straight-shooting advice on this creative outlet that I now adore. It was Lamott, however, who zeroed in on what I love the most: Writing teaches me to pay attention.
I shouldn’t need anything to make me pay attention to life, but then again, maybe I do. Maybe my cousin, Amy, is right when she claims that we all have a creative side that needs exercising, and maybe it is that need to create that leads us to lean into this thing called life, to have a reason to head out into it, to use all of our senses, to take notes on everything that is there.
Maybe. That’s all I’m saying. I just know that writing is now a part of who I am—and that I am thankful.