Writing and Personal Archeology

I otter run errands today, but I think I have a big white dog here who would prefer I do something else. Hmmmm….what might that be?

“Priorities, Martha, priorities. Carpe the diem. You got any more of those rawhide pencils up there?”

“Yeah, but it’s the last one. We’re going to have to clean out from under the sofa today.”

“I don’t understand how you can link all those prepositions together.”


“Huh? No, that wasn’t me. That was the voices in your head.”

“Oh, good.”

It’s very disturbing to think your very own dog might be having problems with grammar. One reason we all love dogs is that they don’t care about grammar at all. If they are ever tense, it’s not about verbs. (God I’m funny… :p )

Now a little bit about writing, about being a writer.

In the process these last few months of cleaning out the lower levels in the stratification of my life I have found a LOT of writing, my writing. Yesterday I found several file folders containing stories, another draft of the Pearl Buck project, and at least 200 sheets of printer paper (old school) on which I had printed the stories of my family and my mom’s family. There was always the understanding that I was going to be a writer when I grew up. Back in the 80s I was on it.

The thing about writing is that a person has to write. William S. Burroughs — that great amoral philosopher from mid-twentieth century — said of Jack Kerouac, that complicated poetic soul with substance abuse issues and a couple of good books — “Kerouac is a writer. By that I mean, Kerouac writes.”

I definitely wrote. Still write. A blogging pal commented yesterday that she’s impressed that I post every day. I think it must be tedious for people to read a lot of what I write every morning, but yeah.

When I began writing a blog here on Word Press there was a daily prompt and people wrote to it which I thought was idiotic, but since my goal in those days was to use my blog to promote books, I understood that I needed to build up an audience. But writing what someone else TOLD me to?


I soon learned how cool it was to accept the challenge, especially when I wasn’t involved in a project of my own. So here we all are. Good Morning!

I already had a daily blog on Blogger. I started it when I threw out the Evil X and found that an online journal presented fewer storage problems than would adding to the 27 volume set of “The Examined Life.”

But writing. I’m unlikely to become a best-selling author, but I’m a good writer. My books? Some have proven to be meaningful to people. I’ve had the pleasure of writing them and producing them. I’m a better human being having had to learn to serve THEM, not my ego. As I looked (look?) at all these newly discovered REAMS of paper I realize how those many years of just plain writing for no real reason, with no real goal, writing just to write, was exactly what I should have done.

I think writing is three main things, none of which is artistic or deep. Well, the third might be a little deep.

1) Writing is typing. In this glorious age (compared to Goethe or Jefferson who wrote with quill pens) it’s typing. I get very irked when I see a film that purports to be about a writer and the writer types with two fingers on an ancient Remington typewriter. Uh-huh. Typing is a language and fluency in a language is freedom. Two fingers on a computer keyboard? Maybe… If the writer is fast enough to keep up with his/her thoughts.

2) A skill. Writing is getting one’s ideas clearly out in front of the self (and others). I read a lot of books every year for the contest and I can tell the difference very quickly between the book written by a person who writes and the book written by the person who had ONE life-changing experience and decided to write about it OR the person who decides “I know I have a book in me somewhere” and writes it. I am sure it’s possible that a non-writer (by that I mean a person who doesn’t write) to write a good book, but it’s not likely.

One of the best books I’ve read for this contest — in terms of content — was written by a person who didn’t even seem to have read a book. I felt so bad for that writer. I wished I could have been there to help her. What she had to say was very, very, very important. I have had the experience of coming between my book and success at the basic level of communicating in the most effective way to a reader. I KNOW about that. Maybe to learn a skill fully, a person has to fail.

3) Surrender. If you happen to have been grabbed by an idea, by a story, it owns you. And when you finish? You owe it everything. The writer is the vehicle through which a story takes life and when it’s finished and out there? It’s not yours any more. All it wants from you is that you write it.

But you can’t get there without writing. ❤

P.S. Don’t worry. I’m not going to start transcribing that stuff into my blog.

41 thoughts on “Writing and Personal Archeology

  1. I’m one of those who writes just to write. I try to scribble something every day. When a story grabs me, it’s the boss and I just keep after it until it’s done.

  2. I write event promotions and social media posts as part of my job. That is not writing. Here I write what about what I am thinking about or discovering or want to share. I like the community. There are so many of the never will be published, or need to be published, but that does not mean we are not writers.

  3. On a bad day I’m down to 2 fingers. When I’m in hyperdrive, I use 4.

    An entire semester of attempting to learn touch typing in 10th grade utterly failed. Can’t play the piano either, despite Mrs. Woods’ best efforts in 6th grade. Just don’t have the coordination.

    Over the years I have still been able to crank out hundreds of thousands of words, maybe millions.

      • Had to take a typing test to get a job once. I came in at 40 wpm which was 10 wpm over the requirement. Not bad for 4 fingers. But I’d been doing 4 fingers for 10 years at the time.

        In high school I had to participate in band. I could never get the fingerings right or do them fast enough on my Sousaphone either.

        • When I graduated from university with my English degree, I wanted to be a reporter. I went to the local newspaper. They didn’t ask me anything about how I could write. They made me take a typing test. I typed only 25 wpm. No job for me! Later, much much later, I wanted a clerical job at a community college where I was a teacher. I was sent for a typing test. Between writing my thesis, working as a secretary, writing stories and the advent of the blessed computer keyboard, I type 100 wpm. 😀

          • My older sisters were required to take typing in high school. Girls were going to be wives or secretaries. I wasn’t allowed to take typing – boys were going to have secretaries or work in the trades. My mom took a night school course and I borrowed her text to try to learn. One of my adult friends has the ability to type without engaging most of her brain. It’s like there’s a direct connection between her eyes and her fingers. She can carry on a conversation and type at the same time. If I remember right, she achieved 140 wpm on a Selectric.

  4. I otter be writing some more! One time, 25 years ago, I thought it’d be super cool to write. Paying the bills won. Beginning a blog was scary! It has paved a way for me to become a better writer. And doer! My journals, not all of them, remain with me. 💛🦦

  5. Great use of the RDP word! I have reams of writing, but not as much as you do. I think it started with diaries as a kid and then into college. Thoughts ran looser and less inhibited back then. Typing (with both hands 🙂) makes it even easier for the thoughts to flow to the “page.” I used to write every day up until about a year ago and I miss it. For what it’s worth I enjoy your daily writings…never tedious.

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