Words like butterflies
There is a story in each one of us - the difference is how it is told. That will distinguish a 'writer' from 'someone who can write'; they are two distinctive personas.
Both love words, but the writer feels words; they are forever dancing in her mind and heart, often elusive and just out of reach, like a butterfly, but always there; fluttering, teasing, inviting.
In contrast, someone who can write has power over the words they choose. For them, writing becomes a pursuit of creative deliberation and intentionality.
A writer is subjected to the power of words. Words choose her.
They are her friends, arriving unannounced and begging.
A writer’s heart, feelings, experiences, heartaches, pain and joys form the words and sentences. They simply cannot be stopped - enabling the writer to connect with her reader and allowing the reader to see beyond her words. As the reader is immersed in the words on the page, the writer’s experiences become their own. Her sorrow and heartache cause tears, and her joys cause a smile. The reader is moved as the writer’s words speak, sing or scream.
After writing, the writer feels spent; her story spilt emotionally, vulnerably and wholeheartedly on the paper or screen, and in the words and phrases before her.
‘How did they get there?’ she asks in wonder.
For the one who can write, however, there is a feeling of relief, satisfaction or frustration after writing. The job is done. They can move on.
A writer’s story is not planned. There are times she is taken by surprise and has to stop what she is doing before the words escape and elude her. This could be in a supermarket queue, while driving, while walking, while listening to a friend, or at 3am; the dark, silent hour of writers and thinkers.
The thoughts and ideas invade all other moments. Unbeckoned and urging, they demand a voice. The writer has to stop and quickly scribble the thoughts and words down in a notebook, on scraps of paper or the backs of till slips, before they vanish.
When a writer offers her story to a reader, she does so hesitantly and cautiously; almost reluctantly; pleading with the reader.
A writer is not offering up a piece of writing, she is offering herself,
delicately interwoven between the words, sentences and paragraphs.
She is inviting the reader to sit with her under the sombre ICU lights as she helplessly watches the machine flatline as her young daughter breathes her last breath. She is sharing that moment; that loss.
She is inviting the reader to touch the visible and invisible scars of abuse and rejection, and share her confused anger and betrayal.
She is inviting the reader to hear her silent cry for help and see her loneliness and desperation. She is asking the reader to reach out to her.
She is inviting the reader into the harsh and cruel world of chemotherapy as the poison drips through her veins to beat the enemy. She desperately needs the reader to stay the course with her so she doesn’t give up.
That is how a writer tells her story. She does so honestly and with integrity. She has no agenda or visions of grandeur. She just shares her story, and in the process, she makes friends she will probably never meet.
But they are connected - the writer and the reader. For the duration of the story, the rhythm of their breathing is linked.
That is the unique power of a writer’s story.
Their story becomes part of yours.
That is the difference between a writer and someone who can write.