by Richard Mansel

I am one of those people for whom writing is not optional. The urge is within me and it has its own mind, body and force of will. Holding it back would be akin to wielding a spoon against a flood. It will flow whether it has a voice or not because it is relentless and resilient.

I know how that sounds. Who would want a raging river in their heads, seeking an open door? It is not evil like the voices in the head of the disheveled lunatic raging at aliens. On the contrary, it is the daily reality of any truly artistic person.

It is said, “A writer writes.” This is true of artists and musicians because the art form is in every cell of their being and they have no choice but to express it. We control what we will do with the art form, but not whether it will pound on the door.

An artistic person’s inner voice is never quiet because creation is axiomatic to their existence. When we have still moments, our minds disassemble the world around us and reshape it anew. We imagine stories and conversations. Metaphors, analogies and applications float around us like the air we breathe.

Artists must create or else. Whether anyone else values the final product is immaterial at its most primal level. We must thrown open the gates of our mind because the locks will not hold the words in forever.

A new parent desperately wants the world to value their new baby. It is their flesh and blood and bears their name. They want their offspring, their legacy, to find love and adulation in the world. It validates their labors and warms their final days.

Writers need their words preserved. They want their ideas to stand long after they have passed. Their writing becomes an extension of their being, but larger than the whole.

Writing is laborious and time-consuming. We pore over every word. Sloppy writing is anathema. Accordingly, editing becomes an obsession where we spend more time polishing than creating.

An artist listens to cadence and tone and excavates the minds of their readers before the latter knows their own thoughts. Hastily scribbling some lines and thrusting them at the public is violence against their sensibilities. All the writer has is trust between themselves and their audience. Carelessness will not allow them a hearing and their words become mute.

A love for writing demands that we are careful in our craft. We see words as tools and we keep them polished, adding to our collection as we find new ones. Stagnation is death because we have ceased to move forward.

Wordsmiths have felled and empowered nations and changed the course of humanity. We must be cognizant of the power of our words. Using them as weapons without the goal of edification makes us despots. While our words are not required to be positive and syrupy, they must spur our readers to growth and inner-reflection. We must leave them better than we found them.

Writers must embody passion, priority and responsibility. We carry a powerful weapon and we must rise to the occasion and use it for good. We must have pride in what we do, with or without the platitudes of men. In the end, we come back to the words that demand to be born and our inner fire. Great writing turns inward before it stands before a waiting audience.

Let the curtain be raised!

Richard works with the congregation in Allenhurst, Ga., serves as managing editor of Forthright Magazine, and is author of The Most Important Question. On his site, The Moving Word, he also writes for writers.

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