This is my more: on the purpose writing serves, and last day with the Spectaculars

Monday, April 27, 2015

Yesterday Kelly and I walked Longwood Gardens where the tulips were like new crayons in tight boxes and the rose grapes hung from ceilings as if waiting to be pressed toward wine and the trees were actually flowers and the treehouse mirror turned us into a 17th century painting with 21st century iPhones. It was spring, crisp, crowded.

The hours served as punctuation. A period, perhaps a colon marking the end of a long winter of talks and workshops, essays and reviews, teaching and papers, intense client work and client revisions, the quiet launch of a novel and the heart-ish completion of a collection of essays. Tomorrow is my last class with the Spectaculars at Penn. We have worked hard together, grown together, hurt together, soared together, and on this day I sit reading their final work—the profiles they have written about people who matter to them. I believe that writing can serve no greater purpose than to awaken the writer to the world itself—the things that matter—and to, in that way, force love (or call it attention) onto the page. I believe that teaching craft is teaching soul. I believe in the quiet things that happen in the margins. I believe.

It's the kind of belief that won't make a person famous. The kind that simmers just off to the left, that urges with wet eyes, that suggests and does not demand, that says, Maybe. The kind that is noticed by a few but rarely by many. Am I, I am asked often and ever more frequently, okay with that? Don't I, after all these quiet books, all these quiet years, all these words living in the shadows, want more?

There are crayon tulips. There are decorated trees. There are steps leading up to the sky. There are moments. There are students. There are friends; there is family. There is a husband and a son. There are books on my shelves written by authors with far greater talent, wisdom, seeing, stretch—and I see that talent, I am grateful for that talent, I am instructed by it, happy for it, elevated and poem-ed by it.

This is my more. This is my life.


Emily said...

They want you to want more what--fame? Money? Books sold? You're living the life! To write for a living and teach are the pleasures. Your work has inspired me. I'm writing my first memoir. I like the person I become from writing.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

As always, Beth, beautiful writing. Even though I am not lucky enough to be one of your spectaculars, I learn so much from reading your books and reading your blog, and when I can, listening to your presentations in person. Thanks for being you, Beth. ~Victoria Marie Lees

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