Am I a writer?
Yes, although incidentally in my view…
I first realized it years ago when I won a writing contest about patriotism that I had not even entered, but had turned out to be part of the writing project I was assigned.
I did not expect to be recognized for my writing, because I did not see myself as a writer but an artist. I had been awarded for my art and that made sense, because I worked at it and had a passion for creating it.
Writing everyday for the sake of writing has never been a passion of mine in so much as I do not feel compelled to journal my experiences or necessarily record witty observances of the human condition.
My passion however is to write in a style that conveys an idea or experience to others the way a painter creates a work of art.
Every great work of art tells a story just as brilliant literature is a work of art by the way it is written. (Tweet This)
The 17th century painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring, by Johannes Vermeer captures the essence of his servant girl subject. Her body is not facing the viewer, but we see her demure countenance looking back slightly over her left shoulder, expressing reticence with her eyes toward the artist.
The luster and elegance of the single pearl earring contradicts her plain attire, and is only repeated in the delicate sheen of her youthful lips. Vermeer values her for her servitude and beauty, while she seems to appreciate her employment and being his muse.
In the book, The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, she transports us and her characters to the raw shoreline of Newfoundland to discover the brutal truth about love. The main character, Quoyle, travels to the unforgiving island with his aunt and two daughters after the death of his abusive parents and unloving wife to get a fresh start.
Proulx writes with such eloquent precision and depth in describing both his geographical and emotional journey that I as the reader feel as though I am standing on the edge of the world with Quoyle staring down an endless view of the crashing sea, while gently breathing in possibilities that now surround him.
When I was given the assignment to write about patriotism, I chose to relate what I imagined my uncle Rick’s experience may have been as a soldier serving in Vietnam.
Although he never spoke to me about his tour in Vietnam, I naively attempted to picture what it must have been like for him there. The words came to me as an image of a soldier pausing between firefights reaching into his pocket to pull out a letter and a pink silk ribbon from home.
As he begins to read the familiar words on the love worn stationary time slows, minutes seem like hours and the disparate din of gunfire fades. The smell of smoke and the stench of death that pervaded his nostrils are briefly replaced with the fresh scent of peach pie and baby powder as he holds the letter and ribbon close to his camouflaged face.
He takes one more deep breath of hope and then suddenly looks up toward the sound of the jungle coming alive.
He exhales, resigned to fight.
He fights for the will to persevere. He fights to hold his family again. He fights for freedom for himself and us.
At the age of seventeen my focus was on science and art.
I intended on becoming a surgeon or an art historian. But when my writing got noticed, it motivated me to improve my writing and I ended up changing my major in college to English literature by my sophomore year.
When I write now it is not to be noticed or published. It is an exercise in creative expression just as painting is for me.
I am a writer.
Are you a writer? Share in the comments.
~Joan F. Hutchinson