in The Natural World/

Writing About Nothing At All

I feel the pull to write but am minus a subject. It feels equivalent to taking a walk with no particular destination in mind, aimless to be sure yet compelled to put one leg in front of the other just the same. This endless tugging reminds me of singers singing scales or humming some little ditty just to keep the throat and windpipe limber, not to mention for the sheer pleasure of it. So I’m writing for no particular reason other than writing has showed itself to be my nature. For this reason I pound on keys, flexing some invisible muscle that serves as play, satisfied I have a small but sturdy impulse on which to creatively act.

A number of years ago I had the great good fortune to co-produce a program for Iowa Public Television called Dames from Ames. It profiled four women writers: Pulitzer Prize winner, Jane Smiley, current Iowa Poet Laureate, Mary Swander, and fiction writers, Sharon Warner, and Fern Kupfer. One of the questions they discussed was “can you imagine ever not writing?” All of them seem flummoxed, conceding it essentially felt unimaginable, with the exception of Smiley. Yet, even Smiley’s concession seemed qualified with “I suppose I could lose my appetite for it,” or something to that effect.

In a previous work life, I arranged, marketed and hosted author events for the now defunct, Borders Books & Music. In that capacity, I met an amazing number of writers from a wide variety of genres, some just starting out, others’ seasoned and quite famous. I recall marveling at their efforts and, in some cases, phenomenal talents. I was also curious about their inner lives. What energy compelled them to act so fervently, some of them prolifically, on that writing impulse which, for me, was monstrously repressed and still latent at the time?

I have since come to know that the urge to write about even nothing in particular randomly erupts of its own accord, now claiming my mind, fingers, and voice, operating from the key creation was composed in. It’s not even personal although the exercise is acted out from an individual subjective perspective. I liken the writing environment to what the physicists and social scientists call M Fields or EM Fields, an energy system that generates electrical and magnetic activity, a coalescing of functions comprised of like characteristics and qualities. It’s akin to a flock of birds in flight that form a collective, working toward a parallel destination or purpose. In short, they are drawn together and operate within an Attractor Field.

Field Theory requires me to write even if no one reads these words. Since unleashing me from the straightjacket of conventional work, my impulse to write, write, and write, even if it’s about nothing in particular, must be acted on. It’s a requirement of the field I find myself in these days. My brother is a photographer and suffers from or enjoys a similar compulsion. It’s part of his nature to take pictures. He simply cannot help himself. The nature of a writer is really no different; only the unique expression it takes is. This is true for all the arts. What’s more, I have learned the hard way that to suppress the creative urge is literally destructive, deleterious to life itself. It is likely one of the principle reasons I have been so painfully frustrated during much of adulthood, not allowing myself to fully become immersed in the flock I was born to inhabit.

And so, my eye is fixed on some vague notion that I occasionally may have something worthwhile to say in what I write. If not, I’ll write anyway, willy nilly, hoping at minimum, to stumble on something useful for others to enjoy. Some small niggling comment or curiosity will penetrate another’s skull, prompting an investigation into how Field Theory affects their own lives.  For to ignore my urge to create with words feels downright irresponsible at this stage, even sacrilegious, a sacrilege I can no longer afford, even if I write about nothing at all!

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