It’s almost like sticking my finger into a knife wound on my thigh – this writing thing is. I pull back the raw incision and poke my index finger into my flesh. I’m feeling for the edges, for the sweet jolt that tells me I’ve found the center. I write from there. photo Â© 2010 Craig Allen | more info (via: Wylio)
Annie Dillard says, “A writer looking for subjects inquires not after what he loves best, but after what he alone loves at all.” It’s not all pain, what we love best, but there is a pain at the center of all we love, I think. That pulsing spot that is the heart of something, a heart we cannot reach entirely here in this place . . . but that center is what we must reach for every minute. To do less is to give up.
Sometimes I ask my students to write about something that always gets their attention. A sign they notice and think about for a second every time they pass it. A person who just intrigues them and they don’t know why. A photograph of a place that they can stare at for hours. I ask them to push into that subject and find what pulls them in. In essence, I’m asking them to find themselves there.
Thoreau said, “Know your own bone: gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw at it still.” Make myself raw . . . or maybe just know that I am. Live my wounds. Write them out. . . find the healing in the pain, the strength in the struggle, the words in the wound.