Writing Prompt – My Work
A number of years ago I read a marvellous and inspiring essay by A. Papatya Bucak in Brevity Magazine, titled "An Address to My Fellow Faculty Who Have Asked Me to Speak About My Work." It begins:
My work is to write this sentence and revise it into that sentence. To take this word and replace it with that word.
My work is a novel I wrote from five to seven a.m. for more than two years and that will never be published.
My work is to be the person you trust to tell the truth, even though I am a known liar.
My work is to see who you are and who I think you could become.
This writing has touched a lot of people and I've shared it more than once, and think about it quite often. I think about it because she talks about work, which is writing, but without using that word. Because writing is more than just writing, for one thing. It gets at how the work of writing includes all of our life, and that who we are in the midst of becoming is also part of the work, part of the writing life. Seeing others, feeling things, noticing details, being disappointed, carrying on, these too, are part of the work. Stories people tell us, our beliefs, our ordinary days, are part of the work. Breaking down and lifting others up. These, too.
In a piece where Bucak talks about the origins of her essay, she says, "I think sometimes we writers hold onto the romantic notion that writing is such hard work that we can’t actually do it, while simultaneously holding onto the practical notion that writing is not paying work so we should not spend quite so much time at it. And so we don’t always treat our work like work, and so others don’t either."
There is also the feeling that when we're not sitting at a computer, or at a desk, pen in hand, scribbling furiously, we're not actually writing. Poets have understood that looking out the window (or similar) is part of the writing. Daydreaming being a necessary part of writing poetry, in my opinion.
I've also come to realize that this blogging is a big part of my writing. My work is telling you: you are required to make something beautiful, thousands and thousands of times. My work is waiting for you to write me back and say, I did make something beautiful. My work is to encourage. My work is to look at images and to be attentive to small things. My work is to follow light and catch it and spill it out whenever I'm able. My work is to find words that are solace and therapy and to keep secrets and to sometimes release them like butterflies from a net. My work is a bit shy and reclusive and weird and my work is to become brave enough to be even stranger, weirder, because I love weird. My work is to be everything I can be all at once. My work is to write endless questions with a fountain pen and to take our dog for walks in the suburbs. My work is to breathe in and out and to continue even when I'm tired and worn down and forget to believe in myself. My work is to listen to the stories people pour into my cupped hands. My work is to receive and to give. My work is to hope for us all and to love and to love and to love.
And now, my beautiful ones, it's your turn. Begin.
My work is....