I was at the MLK jr. march on Monday–which is one of my favorite Seattle events. It’s usually soggy and full of brass marching bands and excellent friends I don’t get to see very often. I was walking with a friend of mine who told me that she has always wanted to be a writer, and it was so cool that I wrote. She said it with this sad longing in her voice. I hear that kind of thing all the time from people. Like maybe they want to write someday when they have the time, or that they wrote fantasy when they were young, or that they have this book they want to write about a bank heist but it’s the World Bank and things get really complicated and political fast (I so want to read that book). Or they tell me that they think about writing and read about writers and don’t know how to start, but it seems like this thing that is missing from their hearts and lives. And has anyone else noticed that the internet is full of articles and inspirational quotes on how to become a writer? (Or maybe that’s just my internet.)
Anyway, writing. People are into it, and do I think it’s cool? Yeah, I do. I mean, I love it like nothing, but I don’t mean cool in the high school way of more popular than thou, or cool like wearing hip new jeans. It’s the opposite of that: it’s raggedy-ass jeans with holes in all the wrong places that you are wearing because you decided who cares but then everyone is looking at you funny. At least it’s that if you are writing about all the scary and true things you want to think about and want other people to think about. It’s cool in a way that means worthwhile, vulnerable, and badass all rolled together.
And I think that’s the reason why there’s this whole ocean of people who are pining to be writers because, well, if we only have one life to live, and then we are dead forever, we want to live worthwhile lives. And lives that effect other people and change the way people see the world, and how do you do that? I don’t know, nobody knows, but writing might do that, if we’re lucky. And on top of that it’s this daily practice where you get to be your fullest self and also use your brain cells to be tricky and smart about how to make story irresistable.
So the next time someone tells me they want to write, and have a story they want to publish, or whatever, I want to hear it in a different way. Not like they are failing to do what they want, but that they are on the edge of jumping in to something important. I want to tell them so loud that they should do it and that I will read it. I want to tell them, so loud! That they should write their beautiful hearts out, and also be activists for what they believe in, and also find work that at the minimum doesn’t make the world a more terrible place. And heck, if I’m being all bossy anyway, I want to tell them to fall in love with the world and be in it like it matters and they matter. I want to invite them to the dance, the big rowdy human dance where there’s a mosh pit in the middle and people are banging their heads together with their stories and all kinds of other body parts and things.
So, you got any stories you want to tell?