I love to write. It’s why I’m here, right now, writing this piece. My love affair with writing started long ago. It started in high school. It started because of a girl. It started out of love. It grew with that love. And it continued out of heartbreak, disillusionment, and loneliness. My love for writing wasn’t seemless. It didn’t begin from passion or enjoyment. It began because it was a chance for me to understand someone I so desperately wanted to be with. It didn’t turn out the way I expected, of course. But life has a funny way of giving us exactly what we need when we don’t even realize that we need it. That’s a lesson I learned then. And it’s a lesson that I haven’t forgotten it since. You see, over the course of 6 months, every fibre of my being was transformed by this art form. It was transformed in a way that I truly believe has crafted me into the person I am so proud of being today. It gave me grace and class. It gave me patience and trust. It gave me resolve and determination. It gave me pain and suffering. It gave me tears and blood. And, most of all, it gave me my humanity.
The teacher of this class was the late Mr. Steffler. And though he has passed, he continues to inspire me every time I put the proverbial pen to paper. He allowed me to discover a gift. Or, perhaps, he allowed me to develop one. I still don’t have an answer to that. In his class, The Writer’s Craft, we were taught to write. But not the way you’re thinking. Because this was no ordinary class. We were taught to throw assumptions out the window. We were taught to unlearn what we had learned. We were taught to truly think outside the box. We were taught how to stop thinking. And it’s this last point that brings me to one of the many things I wish to impress upon you, the reader. To write is to stop thinking. To write is to take your being — everything you are, everything you were, and everything you will ever be — and craft it into words. And it is this act that may be the most noble, most human thing that we can ever do. Because as far as I’m concerned, what makes us human is not what we build or what we do, but it’s what we communicate. Communication is what was shown with drawings in caves so many years ago. Communication is what built Rome. Communication is what allowed us to land on the moon. Communication is what allowed us to build cities of tens of millions. And communication is what will save us from several impending crises. And while writing may be only one form of communication, I can confidently say that to write is to be human. This, right here, is the power of our words.
And so this course, The Writer’s Craft, changed me, over time. Of course, the so-called “Writer’s Craft” isn’t an art I’ll say I’ve mastered. No way. But it is a craft that I know myself to be damn good at. And it’s a craft I want to share. Just like it was shared with me so many years ago.
As I’ve grown older, had more experiences, had more successes, had more failures, and simply lived, the power words has only grown stronger to me. To me, words are among the most precious and beautiful things we have. Words have gotten me to where I am today. Words have made me into the person that I am so proud to be right now. And while there are many words that have carried me over the years, there are no words more special to me than a particular passage from Homer’s The Odyssey. When faced with the promise of more perilous adventures on his journey home, Odysseus confronts the gods only to realize this part of the journey is out of his hands. No matter how hard he may try, great loss and sadness awaits him. And it is up to only Odysseus himself to see these trials through and continue on.
Old contender, will you not yield to the immortal gods?
– The Odyssey, Homer
These words have defined me. These words have shown me that no matter what perils or conflicts may present themselves, it is up to I and I alone to continue on. It is these words that have gotten me to where I am today. These words are a part of me — literally — being tattooed forever on my body.
That’s what the power of our words can be. Words can create us. Words can destroy us. Words can fix us. And words can take us apart; piece by piece. But most of all, words can define us.