Last night I spoke and did a poetry set at University of California Riverside. It was a fun night, there was fellow poets and performers, some students and also a friend, poet/rapper, Jason Chu on the bill. I thought the night went well, I did more of a political set, as it is a political year and we we’re celebrating Asian Pacific Islander Heritage month, so I touched on those topics, as well as my own career.
But that is not the reason for this post… I write now because I met two girls after during the meet and greet portion of the evening. I’m outside the venue they loving call, “The Barn,” at UC Riverside, it was warm inside, due to all the audience and lights, so it was nice to meet folks outside in the evening air. I’m just shaking hands, taking pictures and signing things and then I meet these two students. I sign the DVD for one girl and a notebook for another, they then tell me they’re creative writing students and they ask me the simple question, “What do you write about?”
It’s such a simple question and I gave them a concise answer, I write about what I know, what I see. I mean, I’m not much of a researcher, uncovering some beautiful, historical stories and writing poignant non-fiction material, I kind of just write about my experiences, even the fiction I’ve written for screenplays or plays have had seeds of my life experience. I’m sure when the people in my life read or see my work, they may recognize the scenes or dialogue, because they lived it with me.
Not only did these students and that simple question get me to think about what I write about, also got me thinking of why I write. Why do I? Well, the truth is I love writing, I like to think about things and have this discussion with myself and words, sometimes I publish it to have the discussion with the world, other times I just write to digest happenings around me. I think about when I began writing, it all started in my journals as a teenager. I’m sure that’s where many of writers begin. Just chicken scratch on blank pages, random poetry lines describing that girl who you always see walking through the hallways between 3rd and 4th period. Entries about falling in love for the first time, trying to put in every detail you can about the first times of everything, fearing you if you don’t you might lose the memory and something as precious as this deserves to be kept pristine. I remember writing an essay in junior high, it was about gangs and I actually won the essay contest, I didn’t want to read it in front of the school because I had friends in gangs and I didn’t want to speak ill of them, especially in public. I just now remember I probably tried extra hard to write that essay well to impress my visiting aunt who was helping me by proof reading the essay before I turned it in… and it just so happens she was beautiful.
I love reading good writing because I can see the places described, I’m transported into stories and world’s I’ve yet been to. I love eloquent writing, when I read something in which the style of the writer uses words in a way that is interesting, puts things in a way I’ve never thought about, or has an ease with language that makes it easy to follow. I’m envious of that… Intellect and grace.
That all leads me to feeling guilty for not writing enough. Seems like forever since I’ve sat down to have a conversation with myself. Check in to make sure my thoughts are still my own. Traveling, keeping up with the ever so fluid world and balancing personal responiblities and the business pursuits of assumed glory… or at least fulfillment, I need to write more. If nothing else but to slow my mind down, to just sit and think a describe the moment I’m in. Yes, there’s a lot to get done, and there’s a lot I have done, but I’m on a plane to Denver on this late morning and the pillowy clouds move in slow motion across the oval window, reminding me I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I can see the mountains, I guess those are the Rocky’s, and there’s still snow on their caps even though we’re so close to summer. My lower back is soar, too many hours on plane rides. My younger self yearned for a life of travel, as things become reality, I get to experience the undisclosed details of my desires, the good and the bad…
So, I promise to write more, some things I’ll publish, some I’ll keep to myself. And if I write something you may not get or like, my apologies, I’m working things out with myself.
(thank you to the two writing students for reminding me write…)