Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22980 – 1058
Here’s the haps:
Short answer: I dunno.
Longer answer: I really have a hard time pinning this one down. My mom taught me to read when I was 3 or 4 and I LOVED reading. I read (and still do) everything with words printed on it And a lot of times, (unless it was a cereal box or something) I would like the way it made me feel. Could I make somebody feel that way if I told them a story?
I liked stories but I liked poems, too. Not a lot of them, though. Some were so boring I just gave up reading them and trying to figure out what it was about. Then in ninth grade, something happened. I was always bored in school but one day my English teacher posed a question in class, “What does freedom mean?” Well, after hearing a few pat answers from my fellow students, me and another stoner looked at each other and piped up singing, “Freedom’s just another word, for nothing left to lose…” Well, her eyes lit up and I thought we were in for it but instead of chewing us out for our outburst or tsk-tsking us, her eyes twinkled and she said, “That’s a great line, but what does it mean? Why did they even put that in there? Everybody take out a piece of paper and write what that’s all about. Why did it sound like that?” She made me think. And I kind of liked putting my thoughts on the paper.
I wrote a lot of junk that was supposed to be poems but was just junk. I learned, however, that I could get my feelings onto a piece of paper in a way others could know what I meant. In tenth grade, I astounded my English teacher by quoting bits of Shakespeare and Poe. “You’ve read several of Shakespeare’s plays, did you notice anything strange about the writing?” “I could figure out the stories pretty well but there were a lot of words that didn’t make sense. I just ignored them.” “That’s okay for now. But I was thinking about the rhythm of the lines. The words he used. Listen, ‘But SOFT what LIGHT through YONder WINdow BREAKS…'” I discovered Iambic Pentameter and that poems could be constructed in a wide variety of ways besides sonnets and that “free verse” was sometimes just a copout. Stories could be constructed the same way. I re-read Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet in a different light and looked at writing in a different way. We covered The Raven and The Bells in class and I could almost feel the tintinnabulation. The Cask of the Amontillado became more vivid and I could feel the desperation and hear Fortunato cry out, “For the love of God, Montresor!”
I think if I had gotten a math teacher that was like that I might have done better.
But why? Why do I write? I think of the thrill I felt when MacDuff killed Macbeth. Could I make people feel things? Could I play on their emotions? What could I do with the power of words? Sometimes it’s because I have something I feel strongly about and need to say something. Other times it’s to elicit a reaction, as with a well-told pun.
Why? Why do I write? I don’t know. Why not?
Out of Ephraim was there a root of them against Amalek; after thee, Benjamin, among thy people; out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.(Jdg 5:14)