November 18, 2012

When To Write?

When To Write?
By John R. Greenwood

When to write? Three simple words swirled me awake at 5am on a Saturday morning. When a love of writing has you in its grasp, finding time to write can be a tug of war between husband and wife, employee and employer, need and desire.

My mind is in constant motion searching for something to describe, explain, or share -with the world around me-from the world around me. As I thought about it I realized that the need to write, and the need to share it, are two separate things. Is it a love of writing, or is it a love of sharing, that fuels my personal struggle-when to write?

The creative urge is strong and the desire to share it can consume you. When I pulled apart the question I had placed in front of me it suddenly became more complex. I tried to chase down the birth of my writing bug to see if  could find why it burned so strong in a man on the further side of life. Did the fire start the day a columnist from a local newspaper called to ask if they could publish a story and poem I had submitted. It seemed to go back further. I kept digging. Each time I thought I could see the bottom of the well it took another turn and went deeper into my childhood.

As I traveled deep into my preteen years I stumbled upon a handful of loose leaf pages folded pocket-size and covered, seven pages worth, with a story written with an old plastic Bic pen. It wasn't a homework assignment or an essay on what I did over summer vacation. It was a junior high school idea of funny. It was called, "The Bigger and Better Bob Burke Blue Book Biography" by Beatrice Barrett (my apparent ghost writing name). I must apologize to my classmate Bob Burke. My attempt at humor was not directed at him even though it was titled in his honor. It was a preteen creative spark gone awry. A seven page story full of words beginning with the letter B. It was a cry for attention and it worked. When a group of  junior high boys are gathered around a desk laughing, it's only a matter of time before a teacher with a class to teach will lose her sense of humor. That is exactly what happened. "What's so funny boys? Would you like to share with the class Mr. Greenwood?" Well I really did, but I was smart enough to know Mrs. Not Real Happy was about to declare me a failure. My creative spark doused with a stern stare of disappointment. To Bob and Mrs. N.R.H. , I hope you can forgive me-the creative spirit runs deep.  What would drive me to bury my homework at the bottom of a pile and then put so much effort into something so childish and immature?  It was the need for attention over knowledge. It was more fun, less challenging, more creative, less structured. The amazing thing about that silly B saturated manifesto is that I have saved it for almost fifty years. It remains folded, yellowed, and dear to my heart. It was my first and only book.

So there you have it. The beginning spark ignited so many decades ago. The question of when to write seems clearer now. You write when the pull pulls you and the drive drives you. I tend to freeze under pressure or direction--a writing rebel without a clause. A rambler and a gambler throwing words out into the wind and letting them float softly to the ground. I receive no compensation for my words other than the joy of tapping away my thoughts and dreams for all to see. There are millions of others out there just like me. They write songs and stories, plays and poems. Writing is painting with a pen, singing with a keyboard. Below is a photo of page one of my first book. 

Page #1
1967 ?


  1. Your passion is in your post's words. You are fortunate as many folks don't get to this level of artistic passion. You are right, no money is needed to feed this -- only time and a space to write is desired. As the saying goes, "follow your passion." and that is exactly what you are doing - how can you exist otherwise. -- barbara

  2. Lovely! Just awesome that you kept those notebooks.