Thursday, December 04, 2008

why write?

I have been writing on the side (letters, journals, stories, essays, stuff), in great quantity, since I was about ten. I know you link my writing to Ocean, but there is, unfortunately, so much more of it. When I eat alone (while traveling), I am always scribbling in a notebook. Most often, I tear these pages out and toss them out when I return. Every once in a while, I’ll preserve a copy of an essay. But the rest? Nah. Sure, my kid writing is fun to keep in a trunk and occasionally revisit. It’s so…youthful. But once I am at an age where quality begins to matter, I’d rather not leave behind pages of junk.

I write, of course, because the translation of thought to words on paper feels good. But, like most conversations, these monologues are best left behind as slight memories. There is no reason to preserve them.

This morning I once again visited my dentist. I was going to call it quits for the year, but yesterday’s dentist said that if I weren’t thorough, I may find myself chasing dentists in the small towns of Europe next week. He gave me a list of possibilities there, but he frowned as he did so. Don’t know many of them, he muttered. And so today I did one more visit, just to put closure on this particular set of dental issues.

And lo, it appears that this particular dentist is also a writer on the side. He favors writing letters. Because he isn’t sure that the recipients are so eager to read them now, he stores the letters on the computer until a time when he’s too old too care or no longer around to monitor the reactions.

I told him that I thought this to be a terrible idea. I already worry that we all leave too many papers behind for those who will have to sort through our stuff once we kick the bucket. Do you really want to leave your computer files for your loved ones too? What a burden! Forget it! If I think it’s memorable, I’ll pass it on now, or leave it in a special box with a red ribbon and a note on it: read it if and when you feel like it.

True, here, on Ocean, I write for a reader. And my Great Writing Project has an intended audience which now includes my dentist, as he promised to read every word (he’s one of those that dutifully finishes everything; in this, as in so many ways, we are different). But mostly, I just write.

On the way home I passed Owen Woods. I used to write here some years back. In a different season, of course. But it’s nice to go back to places where you once wrote even if those notes are long trashed.

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