To the Dearest Abby of Them All: Thoughts on Writing. & Finding the Words.
The following post has been alive in my head for nearly six months. Thumping. & Stamping. & Getting Born every hour. All since the very day that a young woman named Abby sent a letter my way.
Addressed solely to me, she explained that she was in a college course entangled with sweet letter writing & that upon assigned to a write a letter to someone who had inspired her, she first thought of me. Abby asked for writer advice. I struggled. & wrote. & rewrote. Wanting my words to be perfect for a girl who has so perfectly helped me with my mission each & every day.
Abby- Perfect does not exist. Slowly, I am learning this. But here are Me & My Words trying our very best for you.
To the Dearest Abby of Them All-
I am a chronic notebook hoarder.
My bookshelves stay married to the thick collection of spines, spiraled & bound. Lined & Dotted. Composition & Some Sort of Sustainable. I collect them and, on occasion, I write.
That is the best piece of advice I would & would not give you, all at the same time:
Writing will never be about the place you put it in.
The longer you think it is, the longer you will avoid pen to paper. You’ll give birth to words so picky- so snooty- you’ll begin to think you only thrive on parchment paper. Gold tinted lines & Moleskin notebooks.
Harry Potter found his first stomping grounds on the napkins of J.K. Rowling. My very best character first lived on the back of a Chinese takeout menu and still, on some rare days, he beckons and we sit down together over a platter of chicken and broccoli.
A space to write that is both delicate & inspiring might never be a bad thing, who would turn down a temple for their most sacred thoughts? But walk around—always—with hands wide open. Ready to catch stories on subways & within waiting rooms. Fingers Spread. So words can fall like lemon drops & gum drops. Make you glitter like a vampire whose heart beats for a Bella.
Because Abby, dear Abby, the first mistake we writers make is to think for even a single second that our words are not traveling onward.
Away from us. Like gypsies in the night. Ready, always ready, to be transplanted the second we lend them out to Reader Eyes. Already, they are up & moving to the next dialogue… the next blog post they have inspired… the speech she needed to write—2am, 2 cups of coffee later, and a haphazard Google search of words like “love” & “heart swell” and she somehow finds herself kept up by the glow of her MacBook & your imagery.
Sung into spoken word. Propelled onto graffiti walls. Sewn into sleeve lines.
& oh, how boring, to think our words might only live on screens and within old notebooks.
Picture them printed out. Posted on walls- virtual & cluttered with Too Many Picture Frames. Living on printed pages & the front windows of bookstores.
For the second we start believing that our words only have one Home then truly we’ve grown selfish in our Unsharing.
We’ve cut our own potential off at the knees. We’ve doubted our words could be harbored in the hearts of many. That some people might need us for that…. Abby, dear Abby, what if you are alive for that? What if you are a living, breathing thing so that your words will shelter another in the storm?
We’ve needed that, we might one day say. We’ve needed you & your words for far too long.
People will always banter about the things that set us apart from other 2 legged & 6 limbed things… the things that make us so very Human. The way we hold. The conversations we beg into the café. Me? I’ve learned to ask: What other slithering, walking thing raises hands up high to describe the crashing of the waves? Wraps arms tight around the torso to talk about the dawn?
Storytelling. Living on page & keep us up at night with the memories of one another.
That kind of thing is in our bones. And sharing is the language we’ve all learned—the hand holder to anything we’ve ever felt. Or heard. Or dreamt. Or whispered.
& Writing—she is a marriage steeped in years spent swooping jars through the air to catch the words that lent the best light to others.
Marriage in the sense that it is hard.
Not always inspiring.
But that it grows with resilience & wisdom in years. Upon years. Upon years.
And there are them days, always them days, where you want to close the book...
& Give Up on scavenging the ground for words because the first “Falling in Love” feelings have faded. And words got tough. And you’ve decided it might be easier to say nothing at all. Right?
Put your pen there still. Put your pen there. & learn to wait as if the very seconds were an artform… Knowing this: some days it will only take words, they will come easier than you ever imagined. Other days- Pain. Some days- Joy. And on some random Monday in the month it might take tears. Tears brought back from a fight spurred on 3 years and 16 days ago.
But hold tight.
Stand by the door with the kitchen light on. Expect the words to come barreling through the backyard woods to find Home on your page. Expect them to come home for dinner—every syllable & stretch of line around the table to feed the hunger of another who finds hope in your writing.
Expect like that and they will always come.