May 03, 2011

I Write

Just the other day, I encouraged one of my students to start posting daily on Facebook so that she can become more comfortable with sharing her work with the public.  She called her first post "I am a Writer", and frankly, I was a bit inspired by her affirmation.

That phrase is something that I've said for years to justify or explain away my behaviors and proclivities.  Why I can't wait to tell, basically, anyone anything.  I suppose, at a level, it's a love for the sound of my own voice, regardless of the medium, but it I think it's also something deeper.

My uncle died when I was about 6 years old, and after the funeral, I had a bit of a morbid curiosity for the program, his obituary in particular.  As I read about his life, I began to imagine what those moments were like: growing up in Cambridge, MD; joining the Army; getting married and starting a family.  I had the entire scene in my head.  For reasons that are really beyond me, I was compelled to draw these images and, essentially, make a picture book companion for this obituary.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "Wow, I had know idea his craziness started that early."  And, if that's the case, boy, you're really in for something on my next post.  But more about that later.

I shared this picture book with my folks, and my mother, bless her heart, photocopied it and started sharing it with her coworkers.

My very first publisher.  :-)

I've always written.  It's in my DNA somewhere.  I come from a family of storytellers.  Some who like to hold court in the middle of a crowd, holding sway like a gladiator at the center of the colosseum.  Others who like to lean over tables and tell secrets in quiet.   But the story is always an act of sharing.  Sharing feelings, news, affections, horrors, tributes, rebukes...

Film, to me, is just another form of writing.  But there are other forms that are more essential, more primal.  No one ever needs to give you permission to write.  Not the public, not a publisher, certainly not a movie studio or producer.  To paraphrase Talib Kweli, if you can talk, you can write.  And that's not just a statement on capability.  That is your birthright.
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