Embrace The Writer's Life And Love the Journey
The Original and Still the Best
“Though we are not now at that strength which in better days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts made weak by time and fate but not in will; To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
I first read “Ulysses” by Tennyson when I was a sophomore in college. I cannot say why this passage struck me like a lightning bolt, but struck me it did. I immediately memorized it and it has been with me now for forty-four years.
I may have fallen short those many years ago in explaining properly what those words meant to me, but today I have no problem at all. They speak of the eternal struggle of man….every one of us as we go about the business of living, the wasted moments, the struggles to regain youth, the worries that weigh us down….and still we go on.
The sheer tonnage of problems and obstacles that we face during our lifetime would sink the Queen Mary and yet we keep moving forward. Some have a vision and a plan; some just follow the instinctual call to see what is ahead…..and once we have turned that proverbial corner…once we have seen what lies beyond that curve in the road….once we have attained whatever it is we sought….we do not give up and we do not relinquish.
Man is a remarkable creature, and within that species we have a sub-species called Homo Writerus….the writers of the world, those who follow a calling that is hypnotic in nature, addictive in nature and sometimes heartbreaking in nature.
This one is for all of you!
What is it we strive for? Some simply look for supplemental income, while others dream of fame and fortune. Some have been writing since the early days of youth, stolen moments with a journal while tucked safely in bed. Others feel the shadows of age falling quickly and strive to put their reflections about life down for others to learn from, while still others simply use writing as an outlet for their emotions, allowing the joys, the fears, the anger and the insecurities to find a voice.
All seem to write as a calling, answering an inner drive that can be all-consuming at times, frustrating often and yet a calm, safe harbor in an otherwise tumultuous sea of life. They create, they question, they answer and they destroy with their words. They excite, nurture, inspire and goad into action those who would read their missives. They can take reality and alter it, or they can bring it into focus and allow their clarity to infect others.
They are artists, each and every one of them, and the world is a better place because of them.
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The perfect word….the perfect phrase….they hunger for those and when, by design or happenstance, they come upon them, they rejoice. They take language, some modern, some ancient, and mold the nouns and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, into a meaningful message all can understand.
They seek to be understood. They seek to be heard. They climb upon their literary steeds and ride across the countryside, shouting down ignorance and instilling a love of literacy to all who will listen.
Theirs is a lonely profession and yet in that loneliness they find inspiration. The hours become days and the days become weeks, and forward they roll as an unstoppable force as old as mankind itself. Wherever there is pain they seek to comfort. Wherever there is misunderstanding they seek to articulate. Wherever there is division they seek to bond.
These are the artists of vocabulary, the Rembrandts of the keyboard, each seeking to quiet the inner voice that whispers at times, while other times shouts, to continue writing.
They seek, in a very real sense, a fix to satisfy the hunger of the drug that consumes them, and each finely-crafted phrase brings them a high that surpasses Angel Mist or Acapulco Gold.
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Yes, to find the voice. To reach that moment when the words come alive, leaving the reader gasping from the experience….that is truly the find of a lifetime for a writer. This is the culmination of all those long hours of work, the laying to rest of all the self-doubts and the discovery of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
At first it is a fleeting moment, a quick glimpse of what could be….but then it happens with more regularity until one day the writer awakens and realizes that….they…..are….a….writer….in the truest sense of the word. Not a writer in training…not a write wannabe…but a writer.
They are then standing on the same Olympus with the greats. They have finally attained that which seemed unattainable. They understand, finally, what it must have felt like to write “To Kill A Mockingbird” or even “One Flew Over A Cuckoos Nest.”
They need no rewards for they know in their heart that what they have produced is worthy of acclaim. Whether that acclaim ever comes is not important at that moment. What is important is that they found the combination that has unlocked the brilliance within them. The dreams of a young child are now a reality, and they can look in the mirror and know that an artist is looking back at them.
Are you now motivated to write your next masterpiece?
And Not to Yield
The detractors will always be there. The wife who wishes you would find a real job and stop this silliness; the husband who wants you to get off your butt and do something to help out; the relatives who cannot believe you are wasting your time on a silly dream; they will always be there, chipping away at your resolve.
The bills pile up, the rejection slips keep arriving and the battle continues with self-doubt, but you are determined to follow this path for you hear the siren song and she sings to you.
The life of a writer is a life of solitude. Time begets more time and the affirmations are few and far between. Writer’s block sets up its detour on your road to fulfillment, and the competition is fierce, and many a day goes by when you wonder if anyone else truly understands.
And still you write!
Because you are a writer! Writing is what you do and it is a large part of who you are. A writer cannot shut off the desire to write. There is no spigot which, when turned clockwise, will stop the flow of words and thoughts and inspirations. One might as well attempt to stop the sun from rising or the tides from marching to and fro.
So you write, and the thought of yielding may occasionally enter your thinking, but it is never seriously considered.
You are a writer!
To Strive, to Seek, to Find…and Not to Yield
The sun sets on another day in the life of the writer. There have been some highs and yes, the occasional low, but as they lay their head down on the pillow a smile creeps upon their face.
Through their words they altered reality. Through their words they offered hope and positivity. Through their words they informed and educated, and through their words they once again answered their calling and brought beauty into the world.
Writers around the world share a legacy with all the greats who came before them, but they also share a common bond with the not-so-greats and those who will try, stumble and fall. Their words will live on forever. Long after we have all died, the words of the writer will be floating through the internet and be resting upon written pages on dusty shelves. One hundred years from now someone will come across an obscure article or book written by a housewife from Des Moines, or Lancaster, or Dubai, and for a few moments read the words that soared from her heart, and the beauty created long ago will once again live.
Yes, you are a writer, and I say BRAVO!
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
"Helping writers to spread their wings and fly."
Dedicated to my good friend Joe on HubPages.