"Open a Vein" {Thursday Thoughts for Writers}

We spent Saturday afternoon as a family at our local thrift store and ended up with all the randomness that you do when you troll through other people's junk: a fish tank, a hot pink baby tub (we're having a boy), $5 name brand flip flops, a pocket Thesaurus, The Tipping Point and a gem--Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner.  He was recently recommended to my husband after being interviewed on the podcast What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel, so we were excited to find one of his books on the cheap. 

The reading for July 24 was like a signpost to me; one of those moments where you feel God's fatherly hand patting you on the back saying, "Yes, daughter, you're on the right path.  Keep walking this way.  I'm right here with you."

Last week I wrote about writers having the propensity to bleed on the page, having never read any of the following.  For the meditation on July 24, Buechner says:

"...What Red Smith said was more or less this: 'Writing is really quite simple; all you have to do is sit down at your typewriter and open a vein'--another haematological image.  From the writer's vein into the reader's vein: for better or worse a transfusion.  I couldn't agree with Red Smith more.  For my money anyway, the only books worth reading are books written in blood...Write about what you really care about is what he is saying.  Write about what truly matters to you--not just things to catch the eye of the world but things to touch the quick of the world the way they have touched you to the quick, which is why you are writing about them.  Write not just with wit and eloquence and style and relevance but with passion.  Then the things that your books make happen will be things worth happening--things that make the people who read them a little more passionate themselves for their pains, by which I mean a little more alive, a little wiser, a little more beautiful, a little more open and understanding, in short a little more human" (p. 190).

As a writer, it is tempting to write "things to catch the eye of the world."  Some call it "writing for your audience." But as I delve into this art, I'm finding that it is the words that cost us the most that are of the most value to others.  I'm learning, like Buechner says, to "open a vein."


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On (most) Thursdays this year, I'll share thoughts, tips and inspiration for writers.  I'm not an expert, but hope to seek personal encouragement in this art and want to share with anyone who's also trying to find their way as a writer.  These short posts will come from books, articles, the Bible, my own thoughts, and other people.  If you're new to the series, check out the posts you missed here. Please introduce yourself in the comments--I'd love to meet you and hear your thoughts on writing.

Happy writing!