I love this line from Jessica DiGiacinto, “(I’m) just not built for peace.” It comes from her recent blog post in which she ponders her own artistic nature, and if in fact it is one and the same with her nature overall.
To be a writer, must one be in a constant state of struggle to some degree?
Ernest Hemingway is generally my go-to man on the nature of writers and writing. He said so many wonderful things in this category that it’s difficult to pick just one, but a perennial favorite is this:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
To have material, one must have met certain elements of life in a full embrace. That is sometimes by choice, but often initially by accident. Chasing life with reckless abandon can be fun, but frequently things seem to start with life coming after us. That is an experience that leaves one a bit off-balance and glassy-eyed.
The second requirement is what Papa addresses, the willingness to bleed it out in all of its hot, viscous, messy glory.
I don’t think writing requires that we be “built for peace.” But I also don’t think it prohibits that mindset either. The ancient practice of bloodletting rested on the literal belief that removing large quantities of blood from the body would prevent or cure disease. This turned out to be more than a little misguided of course, but I think Hemingway’s expression is connected to this concept. Good writing is a willingness to let out what wants to remain inside, to let it out despite the extreme difficulty and with a disregard for clean-up costs.
For many, it is about letting it out as a way of making peace, if not about being at peace. I think we are all built for peace. It’s the question of how we get there that makes us each unique.