Why I Write

a response to invitation #1

Recently, I participated in the #100daysofnotebooking challenge started by Michelle Haseltine. One of my notebook entries is a list of reasons why I write:

Notebook Entry #100daysofnotebooking

But I don’t think the truth is on that list.

In her TED Talk, Susan Conley (author of The Foremost Good Fortune) shared her response to a question about why she would volunteer her time to do workshops for young writers. Although she hadn’t been quick enough to say it on the spot, she realized later her truest answer would be, “For the magic that might go down.”

That’s really it, isn’t it? The reason why we all write? For the magic that might go down.

Because writing, like most creative endeavors, opens a door of possibility. Even when I am fairly certain I know where a piece is headed, the possibility exists that a new thought will emerge and create magic.

One of the most amazing bits of magic I encounter around writing, though, is the way it impacts my view of the world.

Take these trees, for instance.

At first glance, you may not notice they are wearing metal tags. I did not notice until I began jogging past them in the dusky light of morning. The reflection of light off the metal tags looked like a forest of eyes keeping watch over me.

Years later, with a return to blogging on my mind, I walked down the same path. Something about these tags tugged at me. They felt like a story. I edged into the woods to study them more closely.

I noticed:

  • the tags are numbered
  • the numbers are in sequence from east to west
  • some tags are bent, seemingly from the tree growing around them
  • the tags don’t appear to be selectively placed, but rather they seem to mark every tree

My first thought was to do some research. I wanted to uncover their meaning and purpose. After a quick search brought me nothing but tales of trees marked for removal, I lost interest in what I feared would be a boring truth.

Instead, I prefer to tell my own story of the tagged trees. You see, I am certain there is a forest ranger, likely with a woman with wrinkles of wisdom or a man with a long gray beard, who has been watching over these trees since they were nothing more than seedlings. This ranger carries a tattered log book with pages of lined grids, like an old ledger. On each visit, the ranger fills interstices with marks that tell each tree’s history. The numbers serve as a means of sorting out their stories, since the trees have not yet whispered their names loud enough for human ears.

These many-storied trees are just one example of the magic that might go down when I walk through the world with the eyes and heart of a writer.

And that is why I write.

interstice: A New Blog

in-ter-stice: an intervening space, especially a small one

-from Oxford, via Google search

I discovered this word after listening to Kylene Beers interview Naomi Shihab Nye, who has longtime been a favorite poet of mine. Nye spoke about her appreciation of the gaps, the spaces between things. I searched for a word to capture that idea and found interstice. I like the way it sounds…interstisss, with that soft cushion of sss at the end.

It is sort of a big, fancy word for such a small space. Did you know that interstitial creatures can be so small they live in between grains of sand? What really drew me to the word might have been the sample sentence Google produced to teach me about the word: “Sunshine filtered through the interstices of the arching trees.”

That’s what makes branches so attractive, isn’t it? Not the branches themselves, but the spaces between.

blue sky lives in the interstices of the branches

That thought led me to consider the presence of synapses in the brain. Why is it there is a tiny space across which neurotransmitters travel, carrying our thoughts from conception to connection? Perhaps there is something special–something essential even–about having space. It seems our brains depend on space to function effectively.

This blog is my way of claiming space–my way of ensuring space intervenes it’s way into my writing life.

Ten years ago I started blogging. I had no idea at the time what gifts blogging would bring to my life. Through blogging I met some of the most inspiring women. I am blessed that some have since grown to become face to face friends. These friendships have wrapped me in comfort and support, nudged me into growth, and shown me who I want to become.

In the past few years, I stopped blogging. I started believing my life had no space for writing without a professional purpose.

I was wrong. Just because you don’t acknowledge them doesn’t mean the interstices don’t exist. And perhaps they exist because their presence is vital to our existence.