Writing keeps me sane. When I do not write for an extended period (which might mean hours, not days or weeks), I begin to fall into a frustrated, restless irritability which is far more difficult to control than ordinary moodiness. When I begin writing again, a kind of peace spreads in some corner of my soul which allows me to see my world more clearly – including my own failings that need remedy. I have known this for many years, but the following assertion from On Moral Fiction (John Gardner) gave me new insight about it yesterday:
“Art is the means by which an artist comes to see; it is his peculiar, highly sophisticated and extremely demanding technique of discovery.”
Yes. Writing is indeed my way of understanding; and if I am not actively seeking to understand, to discover truth, self, God, neighbor, how can I be sane? This great task is natural to the human mind and soul, and we must be about it in whatever way He has equipped us for it.
Of course, I learn much by reading and listening and studying, without which I could not have the knowledge necessary for discovery. But these only provide the materials. I must process those materials to discover their meaning, the vision they offer me. And if I am not actively doing this, the materials themselves begin to overwhelm me with confusion and their own strident need to be heard and handled, creating that frustrated restlessness that cannot be quieted or appeased except by seeking sight through writing.