riting found me. I say “found me” because I wasn’t a compulsive scribbler as a child. And though I did read a lot, it was more about competing with my best friend to see who could fill their library card first. My early curiosities (and I had many) were more about how the body worked and what happened to it when it didn’t, not about literature. These childhood wonderings eventually led me into nursing.
There was much writing to be done in this profession. Most of it the methodical and timely documentation of quantifiable data. And once I found my professional niche in critical care, that writing could occur nearly every minute of an eight-hour shift.
But there was another kind of writing going on as well, one which didn’t require pen or paper. In fact, it required not a word be documented at all. It was the silent writing of a life; a life defined by what it did or was exposed to each day.
The mind is a palimpsest of experience and many of the people I cared for during my nursing career helped write that early cerebral manuscript. But then other experiences came along (friendships, travel, marriage, children) and added new layers. And it will continue to be overwritten until I draw my last breath.
But what to do with such a vast manuscript? Why do anything with it at all? Why not just let it be a story that continues into old age, write The End with that last breath and allow the memory of me to form the palimpsest of those I leave behind? No, and mainly because of those curiosities I mentioned having at the beginning.
Nursing taught me quickly about the vulnerability of people, not just in those who are sick, but also in those who love them, or love them not at all as the case may be. It is a vulnerability we all have and which we respond to in different ways. I believe writing found me in order to help me make sense of such things; to try and answer the questions my curiosity kept raising.
Writing enables me to dissect human nature, to examine its inner workings just as I would have examined the inner workings of frogs or sheep hearts at a school science bench, but without the blood. Well, sometimes I feel as though a little of my own is spilt in the process, but all in the name of craft, eh.
So, I write to understand. I write to make sense of the senseless. I write to celebrate the joys of life; to question the often unfairness of it. I write because good manuscripts should be read. And life is good. And when it’s not, I write to make it better, or bearable at least. In my mind, anyway.