Dogs bark. Fish swim. I write.
These simple sentences have two parts, the break occurring between the words. Some imperative (command) sentences may be only one word long: Write. Swim. Jump! You is the understood subject.
Looking beyond the content of these sentences to the structure provides some interesting insights. The subject is the knower, the doer, the one who acts; the predicate is the process, the action, the heartbeat of the sentence. They act together to create a complete thought, consciousness becoming dynamic.
To improve as writers, we have to consider both halves of the simple sentence I write.
We have to consider the subject, the I. If I am dull or impatient or distracted or unhealthy, what I write will lack my full effort. Like an athlete, I must be fully engaged when writing. I must continue to grow and expand as a person. I started writing for myself (and not just for class assignments) when I was fifteen years old. I would hope my extra years of living I have added to the experience and wisdom that I bring to writing.
When I was twenty years old, all I wanted to do was write poetry, but a frightening, sobering experience set me back--at twenty years of age, I found myself banging against the boundaries of my creativity. I was trapped within my limitations. All I wanted to do was to write, yet I saw and felt the limitations of my writing.
I was instructed in the Transcendental Meditation technique a week before my twenty-first birthday, and I've regularly practiced TM since that time. I believe that our outer expression of life has its basis in our inner life. TM has given me rest and has quieted that inner rabble that can be so distracting to creativity. It has deepened my inner life. It's also why I teach in a school that teaches a Consciousness-Based educational curriculum. I believe students should not only grow in what they know but also in their capacity to know.
I also exercise, try to eat well and get to bed on time. I try to live a good life because I don't want to be distracted from my writing. This last spring I came down sick with the flu, which morphed into walking pneumonia. It was the sickest I'd ever been in my life. I was distracted from my writing, from my job, from everything except getting well. It reminded me that being of sound mind and body is the basis of having a successful life--as sound of mind and body as we can get, anyway. We've all got our issues, but there's no need to exacerbate them.
For all those brilliant, neurotic writers in the world, God bless them, but they (or we) are brilliant in spite of neuroses, not because of them. And I don't include our oddities, peculiarities, eccentricities, idiosyncrasies--our bizarre, outlandish, freakish habits as necessarily being beyond the norm. I hold the norm to be a very diverse and differentiated population.
Other people may engage in different activities. I bike and walk and jog. I garden and enjoy the outdoors. Others may swim, hit the squash courts, bird watch, listen to classical music, or practice the slow dance of t'ai chi ch'uan's training forms. There are many ways to improve our health, whether it be inner or outer, mental or physical. I like TM because it doesn't exclude other pursuits; it just takes us to that state of least excitation of consciousness, and from that quietness, we then move into activity, like the archer fully drawing the arrow on the bow and then releasing it. It's all part of the beginning half of the simple sentence I write.
The other half of the sentence is the verb: write. It is the process, the skill, the action. By definition a writer is one who writes, as simple as that. The trick is, OK, how well do we write? How well do we understand the process of writing?
I write. We have to consider both aspects of that declarative sentence, of that declaration. Expand the container of knowledge. Develop writing skills. In both of these imperative sentences, the unspoken subject is you . . . or I, because I'm a writer.
I write says a lot. We must live integrated lives . . . and I haven't even attempted to discuss the sentence I am, a much more abstract, more difficult subject. Am is a state of being verb without action, only amness, isness, unity. There is a saying, that language stands at the door of the transcendent and awaits our return.
We return, as Dylan Thomas said, to our "craft or sullen art," attempting to to find meaning in a process where our efforts, according to Archibald MacLeish, at their best, "should not mean but be."
Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved