Every Thursday, Ooligan Press invites a poet whose work is included in Alive at the Center, our forthcoming anthology of poetry from Pacific Northwest writers, to blog for us. This week, we are pleased to feature Marni Norwich, a poet from Vancouver, B.C. Please enjoy her post!
Why I Don’t Write
So many good books have been written on the subject of why to write, and none on the important question of why not to, that I think it is high time to redress the imbalance. Hence my current book-length project: Why I Don’t Write. This important contribution to the literature is not to be overlooked! In it, aspiring writers will find reams of accessible lists (arranged alphabetically and according to subject for easy finding) and chapters full of solid arguments against writing.
No more feelings of guilt, shame, laziness and dishonor from writers who simply don’t want to write! Writers need never trouble their minds in search of valid excuses when they can simply lick a finger and open the swelling pages of my tome. I always say that any reason is a good reason not to write, and done are the days when we need seek validation for our still pens from outside sources!
From being under-inspired to being too inspired (why threaten that fabulous feeling?), from being intimidated by the great writers who have gone before to feeling superior to them (I could out-write Emily Dickinson in my sleep! Now, off to clean the bathroom!), this book will affirm your every withhold and add to the mix with compelling argument and rock solid logic.
In the current era, with its emphasis on creativity, process, and the “calling of our art,” so many people are racing to pick up notebooks and pens in the quest to express themselves. Everyone and their sister are busy writing poems, short stories, novels, and plays, and the market is flooded with books telling us why and how to write.
Write write write! That’s all I hear, wherever I go! Even while I sat innocently at a café, trying to get a moment’s peace with a cup of tea, the women at the table beside mine were speaking loudly about their “journal-writing process” and how fulfilling it was for them. After a few minutes of this, I couldn’t stand it any longer and had to turn to them and say, “Excuse me. You probably mean no harm, but there are people in this café who are successfully avoiding writing after years of hardcore activity and months of withdrawal, so could you please keep your inflammatory conversation down!”
Gratefully, they spoke in hushed tones after that, and—as you can imagine—I was much relieved. I softened and even considered talking to them about the upcoming launch of my book, Why I Don’t Write, but they left before I could gather my business cards.
To the old adage, “Those who cannot do, teach,” I add “Those who do not write, preach,” and by this I mean that those who have moved beyond the need to engage in this pernicious activity have an obligation to the lesser-advanced to drag them from their misbegotten inkwells to the light of day, and sometimes into public scrutiny! For shouldn’t the reading public be the final arbiters in the question of who is permitted to contribute to a global literature that affects us all?
What would our literarily demure forefathers have thought of today’s “democratization” of the written word? How would they have tolerated the plentiful and low-grade pulp fiction and comic books, the detective novels and fashion magazines? The answer, clearly, is not at all well!
My point is simple. For every reason a person can think of to write, there are twenty reasons why it is actually a very bad idea. My friends, I have a secret to share with you: Writing seems like such frivolous activity, but I have it on experience that it connects us with the deep underpinnings and unexplored yearnings at the very base of our beings! If you think that kind of unearthing will not kick up a storm of every magnitude, you have another think coming! If for no other reason than to preserve the untouched integrity of what is and the predictable unfurling of the human story as we have known it, I beseech you not to write! Drop your pens now, before the stirrings of your souls herald a burst of change at a magnitude beyond the scope of imagining, encompassing yourselves and the entirety of this lumbering, multiform planet—this huge, blue-green spiraling notebook!
Marni Norwich is a Vancouver, British Columbia writer, editor, writing workshop facilitator, and author of the poetry collection Wildflowers at my doorstep (Karma Press, 2008). She’s been reading and performing on Vancouver stages for eight years, sometimes with the accompaniment of dancers, choreographers and musicians.
Marni’s poem “Hang On,” which was inspired by a ride on Vancouver’s 20 Downtown bus, will be featured in the complete Alive at the Center anthology as well as the Vancouver edition. Both books are currently available from your favorite local bookshop or online retailer.