On Writing Well

Last night I read something I had written over a year ago. I was impressed. I laughed out loud. This may not prove my writing was inspired, but let’s face it, something that I wrote moved a single human being. If that human being, being myself, was not my original target audience…well I wouldn’t be the first writer to stumble upon an unexpected audience.

As a writer, I find I do my best writing in a rush. I believe this is because, due to my training, I have very little time to write inspiring things before Common Sense reasserts itself, and my Training kicks in. The ole ego steps up, takes command, and thinks about wretched things like approachability and marketability and other “abilities”. All these “abilities” impair my capacity for joy, which is the only thing I really care about writing in the first place.

The problem is not limited to writing. It creeps into all my words. I think love and encouragement for a family member, and immediately speak crushing practicality. I sit down to dream and immediately rise up to worry. Or I make my point just fine with two bullets, but feel compelled to write a third…

All these impulses are very deeply engrained. And mostly they are oriented around fear. So I conclude that at various times in my life, I have taken in this message: that the bedrock of Life is danger. But if this is not true, then this idea is poison. It completely reinterprets lilies, daffodils and beautiful women. If untrue, then could there be any more insidious thought then that beauty is treachery?

What if beauty is not treachery? What if, instead, every fear you ever had of dreaming, of hoping, of mad, joyous inspiration –what if all those fears were in fact the treachery? What if all of Life was the cherishing of beauty, the carrying of a glowing ember through the cold, wet wilderness to the tinder of wonder, which–oh, shoot, I see I’m late for work. Laterz, dudes and dudettes.

Published by Joel Helbling on

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