by Prasanta Verma
Writing often feels like I am pulling water out of a deep well. At times, the well seems like something out of Alice in Wonderland—is it truly there, or a mirage? Will I haul out an overflowing bucket today and will the well transform into the size of a teacup tomorrow?
Rilke, in Letters to a Young Poet says, “Everything in nature grows and struggles in its own way, establishing its own identity, insisting on it at all cost…We can be sure of very little, but the need to court struggle is a surety that will not leave us.”
I find the same is true of writing. Through writing, I find gems borne through the process of struggle which, when put together, transform into a unique mosaic of my voice and who I am.
Through writing, I hear the memoirist, who wants to be understood and share relatable life with others, and hear the reader say, “Yes, me too!” I hear the poet, who desires to assemble the aches and joys of reality into beautiful words which take the reader’s breath away. I hear the nonfiction writer who seeks to research, inform, and teach. I hear a storyteller, who longs to share inspiring and lovely stories. I hear all of these voices speaking through my words, whether it is in a poem or an article.
In my writing, I hear and experience an overarching desire and a common thread seeking beauty through the medium of language. Writing allows me to create a new world, a new vision, thought, story, a new way of using language that effortlessly carries the reader to an unanticipated place. I hear the desire in my writing to carry me, as well as the reader, to unexplored countries of words and language and story and thought. In writing, I find in myself the resources to pack a suitcase for the long haul. The part of me which seeks a quick and easy solution is neatly packed and soothed into a sort of winter hibernation; I find the part of me that welcomes a wild and wonderful expedition.
Writing reveals to me the person I am, the person I long to be, and the person I can be. Where I find a weakness, I also find a strength. Through the writing struggle, I discover in myself a thread of tenacity. Through the desire to be known, I discover through writing I can indeed be known and seen and heard—through my words. I hear the writer who doubted herself find waystations of encouragement along the way, affirming and exhorting her forward.
In my writing, I find the child who wrote her first poem in first grade. Her experiences since then find little landing homes in a word or thought, here and there, often metamorphosed into something unimaginable and unanticipated, in the words of an adult who now has the benefit of hindsight, time, and experience. In my writing, I hear the adult who realized a few years ago how much writing had been an integral part of her life, albeit informally for many years, who now seeks intentionality in developing a writing life and developing her craft.
The myriad pieces come together into a unique creation. I, as well as every writer, am a reminder to the world of the power of story, of language. Through my words, I find significance and meaning in giving to a world that needs words of beauty and truth. I find that my words will last longer than I will, and I desire to make them meaningful, relevant, beautiful, and true. Thus, I hear in myself the voice of one whose words wish to stand firm, to speak out, to expose.
As I pull from the well, some days struggling, other days trying to keep pace with words or ideas flowing forth, I find a spangle of jewels, words that somehow come together, creating a work of art for the reader. A writer knows how much of her the process requires, how much of her is inside each story or poem that struggled its way out. Each of these is an integral part of making a piece into a whole, each of these comprise the writer I am and the writer I long to be. Each of these parts contribute to the formation of a mosaic of words, a gift that I, as a writer, can offer the world.
Note: This piece was a winner in a writing contest for the Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference, and this essay was published in the first edition of the Breathe Journal in October 2019.
Prasanta Verma is a writer and poet. She was born under an Asian sun, raised in the Appalachian foothills in the south, and lives in the Upper Midwest. She is a regular contributor at The Contemplative Writer and has been published at (in)courage, The Mudroom, Relief Journal, Barren Magazine, Tweetspeak Poetry, and more. Connect with her at https://pathoftreasure.wordpress.com/ or on Twitter @pathoftreasure.