Thursday, October 14, 2010

Invincible Vulnerability

In honor of NCTE’s National Day on Writing, we Teaching Authors bring you a series of posts about our own reasons for writing.

Why do I write? I often say that I think better with a pen in my hand. Sometimes it acts like an extension of my arm and moves across the paper almost by itself. Thoughts pour out that I wasn't even aware of, as if I’ve turned on a tap that allows words to gush onto the page.

Sometimes my brain gets so overloaded that something has to spill somewhere somehow. Writing makes room for what I take in. My brain organizes the most urgent and/or relevant thoughts in ways I can’t always comprehend, and presto! They land on the page for me to sort through.

Sometimes I find scribbled notes in my own handwriting that I can’t remember writing.

Sometimes I write things that scare me because they are so surprising. I ask myself, Where did that come from? And sometimes what pours out is frightening because it’s so personal and so revealing. But a certain kind of strength comes from opening up and saying to the world, “This is who I am, this is what I believe, this is what I stand for.” I think my sister Peggy coined the phrase we used way back in college to describe that oxymoronic state: “invincible vulnerability.” The term has stuck with me all these years because even though it’s a difficult state to attain, I keep striving to reach it. Staying open requires honesty and attention, and the rewards justify the effort. Writing helps me not only discover what I truly believe but also express my beliefs. It helps me focus, pushes me to stretch beyond what I’ve grown accustomed to, beyond the easy route.

Why do I write? I write to remember and to uncover the truth—not only in stories but also in me. I write to learn and to share what I’ve learned, to collect information, to incorporate opposing viewpoints, to organize my thoughts. And a certain kind of joy—or at least satisfaction—comes from watching seemingly random concepts evolve and coalesce into a logical form.

I write for reasons that seem contradictory but connect in ways that make perfect sense to me. And for me, living a meaningful life means making connections: past to present, here to there, me to you.

Be sure to explore the NCTE web site!
About the Initiative
Tips for Writers
National Gallery of Writing

Enter our Teaching Authors contest!
Tonight (Friday, October 15) at 11 p.m. CST is the deadline to enter to win an autographed copy of Candace Ryan’s new picture book Animal House. For book giveaway details, read April Halprin Wayland’s October 8 interview. Good luck!

Out and About
Today, I’ll be visiting Wilson Elementary School, Grant School, and Mead Public Library in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, to speak about writing and poetry as part of the Sheboygan Children’s Book Festival. See the web site for details and the schedule of exciting events.

JoAnn Early Macken


Carmela Martino said...

>>Sometimes I find scribbled notes in my own handwriting that I can’t remember writing.<<
So glad to know I'm not the only one! :-)
Thanks for a great post, JA. Hope your visits go well!

BJ Schneider said...

This one's a keeper! You said so much, and said it well!