Yep. It’s been another month already. I’ve been hard at work doing all of the usual Mick Theebs things. I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, but I’m definitely gonna come up short of the 50,000 word mark. Oh well. The book’ll be written one way or another.
Anyways, I wrote a little something for all of you non-writers out there. It’s a letter to all of you from the bottom of my heart. Here you go:
An Open Letter to Non-Writers
As you already know, I am a writer. It is an integral piece of my identity. Anybody who has known me for me than fifteen minutes can tell you that Mick Theebs is a writer.
But I also know that writing is not for everyone, that some people loathe writing and will do whatever they can to avoid it. This post is dedicated to you, the non-writer. The scientist, the business man, the mathematician, the athlete. I know your struggle with the written word because I grapple with the things that come so easily to you. And I understand, sometimes the words don’t come so easily. Sometimes you look back on what you’ve written and shake your head and wonder how you’ve managed to pass grade school.
But there is hope for you. Writing is not like picking up an instrument; you probably have some idea what you’re doing when you put words in sentences. After all, you have a firm enough grasp of English to read this post. You probably do some writing in your day to day life already, even if it’s only writing lists or scribbling notes.
What I’m trying to do here is to spur you and motivate you into trying something that you’re probably already pretty good at. Because writing is good for you, it’s good for organizing the thoughts floating around in your little monkey skull. It’s a very effective means of venting your feelings and keeping yourself from going crazy. It’s a way to make a point and to have people understand your perspective.
And I know, you’re worried what people might think of the barely legible words you’ve written down and how they might reflect on you. But there’s no reason to have this insecurity. Plenty of people write without ever telling a single person. They write only for themselves. And some of them are damn good. Look at Emily Dickinson. The woman had agoraphobia (a phobia that kept her from leaving her house) and only corresponded with a handful of people about her poetry. She was very private about her writing and demanded that everything she had ever written be destroyed after she died. It was only after her death did her family understand the depth of her work. She’s a literary legend now! So the worst case is you try your hand at writing, show nobody, croak, and your relatives find your work and say “Holy shit! This is brilliant!” So dispel those fears of having somebody see what you’ve written, since you’re in no way obligated to show anybody. What you write is first and foremost for you.
Writing is good for you because it is the act of taking a nebulous feeling or thought and distilling it into words. And in way, you’re letting those feelings out. It’s a way of cementing a good feeling on the page like a mental photograph, and also a way to vent negative emotions without causing any harm toward the object of your wrath. Like all other forms of art, writing is a cathartic experience. Because that is art at its most fundamental level: the outpouring of thoughts and emotions and turning them something else: taking intangible things and using them to create. Art, and by extension writing, is the act of transforming the transient into permanent.
There is an intrinsic aesthetic value that comes with writing. Language is a beautiful thing. Like colors on the palette, words have different hues and shades that communicate different feelings. And it is a wonderful feeling finding the word that fits best. And an even better feeling is seeing others appreciate the beauty of your words. There is a feeling of deep satisfaction that comes with the knowledge of creating something beautiful. Even the act of cooking a good meal, or getting nothing but net in a game of basketball is beautiful. You know that feeling. I’m certain that you enjoy it. And I’m willing to bet that you’re capable of making of making something beautiful with your words. It probably won’t be the Mona Lisa, but it will be beautiful in its own little way.
I’m not asking you to write the next great novel. But I am saying that you should at the very least try to keep a diary. You don’t have to write in it every day, but any time you need something to pour all of those feelings onto you should write. And you don’t have to obey any rules. It’s your diary. Write in it however you please! I guarantee that you’ll flip through it years later and regard it as something special.
I’m going to again remind you that this is not a call for you to quit your day job to become a writer. This isn’t even me asking you to write a short story. The only thing that I ask of you, my little non-writer, is to try. Try writing something.
Because who knows? You might be damn good at writing. You might become a happier, healthier person. You might love doing it. But you won’t ever know until you sit down and try it out. So please, not for me, not for your mom, not for whoever you’re trying to nail, not for anybody but yourself, sit down and write. If not for only fifteen minutes. It can’t hurt, can it?