I’m on a mission to write 100 essays in 100 days. This is day #29 and this is what I think about this process.
The most important thing about writing is having something to say – advice from a writing teacher many years ago.
Blogging every day means that I have to dig deeper for something to say. The low hanging fruit has been plucked, peeled and eaten a long time ago. No easy pickings for me. I’ve exhausted what I’m willing to say about my children and unless they come up with some really good new material with signed releases for its use, I’m stuck with what I experience myself as a person. So what may appear to be a mundane life needs to be mined to find the remarkable. Every life has that, don’t you think?
There’s a catch, though. It isn’t so easy. To write about an experience or a feeling means that one needs to observe it very carefully, remember its essence, the details of the moment. The glow of a light in the dark, a stick figure on the refrigerator, the beads of sweat on a sick child’s forehead, the fear of being late or wrong, the silence of no one being home.
But one can’t live as if every experience is material for a blog post. Not every lived moment justifies a photo shoot. It’s the picking and choosing, knowing what strikes you that is the trick.
Always there is the worry – will I forget this moment if I don’t take a picture? If I don’t write about it, will it be gone? Joan Didion said it: “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.” And I don’t. I can never explain to anyone what I want to write nor what I have written once it’s down on paper. For better or worse, the words have it. I don’t.
A friend asked me, “So you’re going to write 100 essays. Do you have 100 ideas?”
No. I have no ideas.
I just take Hemingway’s advice: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.”
And that’s the truest sentence I know today: The most important thing about writing is having something to say.