Writing vs. Running Away

I met with one of my poetry mentors yesterday. He brought up the plight of an artist or more specifically a writer. His advice was to always check in with yourself and ask yourself why it is you are writing. For him, and he said this in a half-joking tone, if he knew what else to do he would head for the hills as far away from his writer-self he could get. He was not the first person to say this to me. One of my favorite poets, Carmine Starnino, said that he would run away from poetry if it didn’t keep pulling him back in. Writing is a choice and then it isn’t. For me, abandoning my writer-self is not an option despite the fact that there is very little external reward for the majority of writers. However, writing is in my blood and I feel it encapsulated by my cells. Writing is my first love and it keeps pulling me back in. Why? I think it is because of the inner reward I feel. It is hard work and I am always battling the nasty demons of self-doubt. However, when I produce a poem or have something I feel like saying in a blog…there it is. I can see and feel myself extended on the page. I love that the page acts as a mirror and I can relive my experiences and my thoughts in a way that hadn’t gained perspective before. Writing is a meditation of sorts and I can express thoughts that were hiding around the crevices of my brain where I did not even know thoughts existed.

Last night, a good friend/fellow writer texted me and asked me to free-write with her and then we were to email each other our inner excavations. The writing prompt was to write something smutty and if you couldn’t write something smutty, why it was that you were unable to. Smut is not my forte for the record. I wasn’t sure what was going to come through my pen, but I was excited to find out. In the meantime, it has been on my mind to try fiction writing but nothing had come out. No characters. No story-line. So here I was, the timer had started, and all of a sudden characters were there and a voice I hadn’t heard before. I kept writing, allowing myself to be free with a voice that wasn’t totally my own. Parts of the story were based on truth, but a lot of it I was just making up. I followed the visions that appeared in my head and wrote them as I saw them. After the timer beeped, I re-wrote it and more images came through and I was surprised at the places my character had seen that I hadn’t been able to previously. I felt alive. This is why I write. To discover things in myself I didn’t know existed. I have always wanted to travel yet my feet have never left this continent. Writing is my way of flying.

~Samantha Baldwin

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