Sydney Story Factory's Mr Mission Control, AKA CRAIG NEW, urges you to write. it's important.
Above my bed is taped a piece of paper torn from a notebook. Scrawled across the middle in thick black texta is written:
WHAT DID YOU WRITE TODAY?
It’s been there for just over a year. Some nights I go to bed and avert my gaze, pretending I don’t see it and feeling a twinge of guilt deep in my stomach. Some nights I give it the finger, exclaiming loudly, “Today I wrote a sonnet! In iambic pentameter! About tardigrades!” (My challenge for September is to write a sonnet every day on themes I am given. Yes, tardigrades was a theme.) Some nights I stare it out, trying to justify (with that same twinge of guilt) that creatively written emails or Facebook posts count as creative writing.
Ultimately, the idea of sticking that judgemental, Big-Brother-esque overlord page above my bed was not to fulfil some masochistic guilt-fetish, but rather to remind myself that writing is an important thing to be doing.
And sometimes, in the rush of our crazy lives, we forget the important things.
We forget to call our parents. We forget to recycle, or leave a light footprint. We forget to pay attention to the people who need it most. We forget to write – and yes, writing is just as important as anything else. Without writing we have no voice, no conviction. Without writing, how would we know what we think? Or what others think?
Sometimes that torn page reminder is enough to turn me from the lure of my bed and back to my laptop, to try and write something important. It doesn’t always happen – it often doesn’t happen – but when it does my stomach also twinges, in an excited way. Like I’m about to eat a huge chocolate dessert by myself, or fall in love.
And sometimes it’s so overwhelming that I have to get up and run on the spot, or do some interpretive dance, because the words are just so exciting that they turn my nerve endings into live wires and my fingers quite literally cannot move in the right way upon the keyboard until I manage to, if I may quote Tay Tay, shake it off.
This is not uncommon at the Sydney Story Factory either.
Every storyteller and more than a few volunteers have witnessed this electrifying kind of writing. The student’s eyes go first, popping out like a cartoon character. Then they’re crouching on their stool, then standing up and gesticulating. Sometimes they’re running for the back door or simply whooping at the top of their voice.
When I was at school, this kind of writing was frowned upon. It was considered disruptive, distracted and disputable. But now that I’m older, I know how important it is. The best words have energy, have passion, have danger. You can’t sit on them any more than you could sit on a landmine and expect to stand up with your butt in the same place. With words like this you must leap and contort and scream.
I might just as easily have written my sign as: “HOW MUCH DID YOU DANCE TODAY?”
During this month, I urge all Pen to Paper participants to find that energy in their writing. Write something passionate or dangerous. Write something that hurts, or feels so good you might burst. Write in a way that forces you from your seat with a victorious WHOOP! to dance madly around the room.
It’s really, really important.
Support Craig and his crazy scheme to write Thirty Theptember Thonnets by visiting his Everyday Hero page and making a donation.