MY WRITING PLACE: SOLITARY, SOLID, SPARSE – The Learning Lessons Series

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Every writer is a secret keeper. As counterintuitive as this may sound—people spewing forth words being secretive—it is true. The words you read reflect a writer’s source but do not reveal where a writer writes them. That is the secret writers keep.

I am no exception. When I write I go to my writing place. It is not a physical place. I can write anywhere. Rather it is a state of mind. If I put my mind-state for writing into words, these would be them.

A barely perceptible breeze makes my cell seem colder than its 58-degrees. The thick granite walls that form its nine by 10 foot area offer no warmth. A threadbare mattress on a granite slab, a bed of sorts, is no refuge from the cold. Neither is the precious little sunlight squeezing itself through the narrow, uncovered, vertical window that connects the cell to the world outside.

A large, rectangle piece of rough-hewn granite serves as a table, a granite-block its only chair. A solitary piece of paper sits on the table. So do a small container of black ink and pen.

Sitting atop the block, shawl on my shoulders, eyes closed I silently compose a sentence. The sentence leads to another sentence, then to another and another. I speak each sentence, alter it if needed, and say it again in its revised form. When finally confident with the sentences’ order and cadence, I open my eyes, put pen in ink then to paper.

One word, then a second word, a third, and a fourth go on the paper. They form a sentence, then a paragraph—on I go until the article is complete. No paper to spare, one sheet per day, I have no margin for error. Precision and clarity are my co-authors.

Page full, article complete, I give it one more critical read. Satisfied, I fold the paper in half, longwise. Then I fold the front corner-portion of each half to form a point. One side is folded front to back, then the other. Voilà my article becomes a paper airplane.

Standing my full six feet seven inches, article-as-airplane in my right hand, I stretch toward the narrow window. Barely able to reach the narrow slit, with utmost love and a small shove, I liberate the article from its humble origin. Trusting fate to find the article’s intended reader. Peering through the window at the North Star, homage goes to my muse.

My work done, to bed I go. Tomorrow is another day with another article awaiting creation and subsequent liberation. In anticipation, I sleep the sleep of the contented.

The words above are evidence of what writing is teaching me. Seek a mind-state that is as solitary, solid, and sparse as is the above cell. Use every word, sentence, and paragraph to form something that is a worthy offering to the world. Liberate it.

Moreover, the mindset helps me see that the true benefit of writing is not the influence asserted, professional advancements, or money banked. The work of writing is its own benefit. That is why it feels so good to have written something, regardless of whether it is ever read by anyone. This is my writing space, now you know this writer’s secret.

Mark

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