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Saturday, December 6, 2014

On being a writer

I read about a psychologist who said we should strike the verb “to be” from our language.  Instead of saying “I am a writer,” just say “I write.”  Every person spends more time sleeping than any other process, but you rarely hear someone say, “Yeah, I’m a sleeper.”   So, you write, and usually you do something else to support your habit.  It’s okay.  But if you want to write something you have to start writing.  I like this quote by Alan Watts, a British-born author and philosopher who spent most of his adult life living – and writing – in California.

 “Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. So, write like you’re a death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say.  Write like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything.   
. . . Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king.”

Watts's own writings, and there were many, reflect his keen interest in patterns that occur in nature and which are repeated in various ways and at a wide range of scales – including the patterns to be discerned in the history of civilizations.  But, as I mentioned, he was a philosopher.

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