A Craft of Compulsion

If writing were only about crafting sentences, words into paragraphs, paragraphs into arguments, it would have little fascination for most. The real joy comes from making things from words, bringing something out of nothing, invisible thought into the world of time and space.

Though family and friends would not likely describe me as “chatty,” I do love words, seeing in them a visible expression of invisible thought. The ancient proverb, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver,” resonates in my thinking as a gentle directive, nudging me toward improved clarity in the mystery of “fitly spoken” words. Whether anyone actually reads the ramblings is of secondary importance. Though writing exposes a person, makes them vulnerable, there is yet something compelling about the attempt to give form to the mind’s eye.

I’ve always had a fascination with the printed page. Coming into the workforce in 1966, my first career choice was a printer working on everything from Girl Scout Cookie boxes to industrial shipping crates to a couple of Ohio newspapers. After setting type for the antiquated hot lead process, learning the new technologies of offset and then digital print, I’ve come to appreciate the architecture of a page. For me, a well laid out magazine is a thing of art.

My appreciation for writing was fanned when I served as Pastor for two rural churches in Ohio. I’d been preaching for years but had only recently identified several correctable flaws in my delivery. In an effort to stay on course, I wrote my sermons out completely, organized into an outline form, held in a small notebook. When attempting to present fleshed-out copies of those sermons to congregants leaving the Sanctuary, I discovered that all things that preach well do not necessarily read well. My interest in turning a phrase with a frugality of words was kindled as I sought to communicate what I actually felt as much as what I thought, as much chemistry as electricity.

“Writing is cheaper than therapy,” is a common thought when people are asked why they write. More than a dopamine rush shared with musicians and artists when convinced they’ve done their best work to date, writing enables me to formalize what I truly feel, think or believe about anything. Writing forces me to evaluate my own, sometimes nebulous, thoughts my own, well-rehearsed, bias. Writing helps me grow. Writing helps me understand how much resentment I yet harbor for things that cannot be changed. Long recognizing that “from the abundance of the heart we speak, ” I am sometimes saddened by what I read of myself between the lines.

There is no improvement for wishful writers who do not write. The improvement comes in the doing. Using a stream of consciousness approach to my efforts, I do my best to let it flow and, as long as that happens, I’ve got to roll with it. Why do I write about the things I do? Can’t really say, except that’s what comes out. The World Wide Web likely makes it far too easy for narcissistic amateurs such as myself to give vent to our passions. But that’s why I’m here. With neither effort nor intent to convince anyone of anything, my compulsion moves me to exercise my craft. There’ll likely be a special place in heaven for those subjected to its evolving nature.

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