My first published essay! Whooda thunk it! Two years, three and a half months ago I announced to my brother that I would have a new adventure – a one year trial of writing, then extend my thumb up or thumb down. It was a thumb up.
I have little formal education beyond high school except for training in the electrical and machinist trades. I have no letters behind my name, yet I write on academic subjects. I am neither a scholar nor a scientist. I am not an “…ist” of any kind.
I am curious and thoughtful. I figure things out. I am an autodidact. I call my writing “the collocated lucubrations of a peripatetic divagating autodidact”. My essays are my collected writings on various thoughts while walking to the library. My opposite number, my granddaughter’s paternal grandfather calls me “The Blue Collar Intellectual.” I thank him for that. I wish to live up to both appellations.
But then I am reminded of a nurse in James Michener’s collections of stories Tales From the South Pacific – “a possessor of minor intellectual pretentions.” If the shoe fits, wear it. It fits too well and I am humbled.
Why do I write? The simple answer is because I like to. Harlan Ellison goes farther:
“Because the why is as simply put as this: ‘I write only because I cannot stop.’ Don’t credit that one to me, I’m not that smart. It was Heinrich Von Kleist. And he nailed it; what he suggests, in literary terms, is the equivalent answer to most of the stuff we do: it seemed like a good idea at the time.”1
Why do I write? I like to, I have to, it seems like a good idea.
In the movie “Shadowlands” a minor character exclaims “I read to know that I am not alone.” In the quiet of my mind I riposted “I write to know who I am.” I have no idea where those words came from – they just popped into my head. I have a name for my writing: Autodidactations. This autodidact is taking dictation from my unconscious mind and writing the words down.
My essays are an exploration of “who am I?” How do I construct my mental and emotional world? How does my life experience transliterate into words? I write as self-revelation, as archaeology of my mind, to create meaning via words. I have the temerity of placing my words before you, thumbs up or thumbs down.
When I am writing it seems like the very best thing I can be doing. I am publishing in the hope, not quite an expectation, that someone out there will find reading this to be a good thing to be doing with their time and will raise a thumb up.
1 Harlan Ellison in his introduction to his short story “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore” in Nebula Awards 29, Pamela Sargent, editor,1995, ISBN 0-15-1000107-3