My Mana‘o on Why I Write.

by Rosa Say on January 24, 2005

*mana‘o is the Hawaiian word for meaningful thoughts, not things you simply think about, but those things about which you have thought deeply, and now believe with great conviction. 

By the time I discovered the blog called Ripples, written by David St. Lawrence, I had settled into a blog-reading habit: The first time I click into a new blog, I look for that page titled “About.”

It’s a treasure-hunting ritual for me. I want to find the heart, mind, soul and spirit of the author in their purity and nakedness. I want to catch them “at home.” I want to meet their family, and maybe see their picture. I want to find their quirks, and I want to laugh at their list of fifty or a hundred things if they have one. I want to honor the character that serves as the steady baseline for the posts they write, posts more inclined to be colored by the flashes of their on-stage personality.

As much as I do this, and as okay as it should be, for after all their blog is public, and they wrote the page to be read, I sometimes feel a bit sneaky and voyeur-ish. At other times I don’t have a stealthy feeling at all, yet I’ll still delight in the knowledge that I may be among the few who travel the same expedition. Let others dive into the posts head first: not me.

On David’s Ripples, where “Thoughts persist like ripples in time” and “No idea is ever completely lost,” I didn’t find a link that said “About.” However I didn’t need to, for I still found the treasure I sought, right where it should be: in that place of honor, top left column, under a heading that said “MISSION STATEMENT.” The link I clicked on, said “Why I Write.”

There on that page I found David’s heart, mind, soul, and spirit. There I was able to honor his character and much more: I was inspired by it; inspired enough to finally write down the same thing for myself. I’ve been writing forever, and loving it with every single word. But separate from the pure joy I find in it, I’ve never before written down why it means so much to me.

I’m not going to tell you what’s there on David’s page, for I want you to discover it for yourself. Visit Ripples, and spend some time there. Chart your course.

Instead, what I’d like to tell you if I may, is why I felt the way I did. David’s blog is one I try my best to read every day. At times I will leave a comment for him, for at that moment I am compelled to do so and cannot help myself, but more often I can’t because the words aren’t ready yet. I have to let them sit inside my own spirit for a while until the music comes, and I can “sing them.” Sometimes it happens in a comment on his blog, sometimes it erupts on a post on my own blog, Talking Story. David gives words dignity, and he gives messages with meaning. And without realizing it (or maybe he does?), he achieves something else: he challenges me to do the same thing.

This was the very first comment I left for David, on a post he wrote called “The Ideal Job.”

“Aloha David, how I wish all our youth could read — trust in, and believe — your post, and to use Bren’s word, how it ‘resonates’ with so many of us. As the saying goes, hindsight is 20-20, but foresight is far, far better.”

Blogs give us this wonderful opportunity to almost immediately respond to an author in a way that books can’t, for you don’t lose the time between writing and publishing like you do with a bound book. And wonder of wonder, the authors of blogs write right back! David responded,

“Aloha Rosa, I appreciate your comments. I write these essays in the hopes that some will not have to learn the hard way as I did. Life is hard enough without spending it making mistakes that have been well-made by others.”

On that very first day that I read David’s Ripples, something extraordinary happened.
On that very first day that I read David’s Ripples, I wrote for myself, “Why I Write.”

After all these years, I figured out, and wrote down, that I write to sing and I write to draw. When I write I can have a beautiful voice. When I write I can create amazing pictures.

I love to write, and I have loved it for as long as I can remember. I love words and the incredible power of suggestion and persuasion they have. I love that they are both subtle and strong, both calming and boisterous, both solitary and gregarious, both controversial and peace-making. I love knowing that because of the way they combine and flow into new sentences they will never be exhausted: I love their abundance and generosity, and I love that they last.

When I was very young, I was talked about as the child who loved coloring books but neither needed or wanted crayons, for the waxy residue they left made it too hard for my pencil to leave its’ mark. I much preferred to use the open spaces to write phrases, and strings of oddly connected words that purposely didn’t make sentences. In those coloring books I wrote my first childish stories about my own Dick and Jane and their dog Spot, and made up what would happen on the next page you turned, if the picture actually came to life, and good old Spot ran into the Cheshire Cat.

I loved to read almost as much as I loved to write. My love affair with books started very early in my life, and it has gotten stronger and more passionate over the years. And I always write in books, no matter how fancy and expensive they may be. If they are mine, they get written in. Words get underlined, circled, and even crossed out at times. The words that I find to be delicious and artistic I rewrite, so that they can be born again in my own hand, revealed in script versus print. I am not hard on my books; I love them well.

Yet I wasn’t a quiet and overly studious kid either. In fact, I was quite the tom boy, climbing trees, playing ball, collecting gecko eggs, and making cardboard fortresses over muddy backyard foxholes with my brothers. Growing up in Hawaii meant being outside as much as possible; in our case, it usually meant getting covered in cane field ash and red dirt.

I am blessed, being able to say that I was pretty athletic and coordinated, I did great in school, and I usually did well with whatever I set my sights on. There were just two things I wanted so badly to be able to do, but I was miserable at them both: I couldn’t sing, and I couldn’t draw. And knowing that I pretty much stunk at those two things really upset me.

So instead of dwelling on those two unsettling things, I wrote. I wrote letters, filled journals, argued in essays and thesis papers, experimented with creative writing and tragic poetry, dabbled in both fiction and nonfiction. When my school days were over and I started working, I wrote to communicate in the way I best knew how. I write far better than I speak: always have, always will. I am much more careful, more fluent, and less intimidating when I write. I am kinder. I like myself better. I write to help me think, and to release everything that is inside, needing to come out if it is to take its own breath and keep living.

In my coaching I teach people to write, to talk to themselves with their own words. I love helping people write mission statements, mantras and affirmations, for I believe that the written and spoken word can be promises you make good on in the best possible way. Keep promises to yourself first, and you’ll keep those you make to others. I’m big on intention, and writing gives voice to your intention: Writing down what you want to be, and creating a picture of your best possible future with words, helps you create your own destiny.

Today I still write for all these reasons and more: I write to work and celebrate my work, and for me, writing itself will never be work. Writing is my pride and my joy, my preferred way to work and make a living at it, and make it meaningful.

And my own blog, Talking Story, could very well be the most fun I’ve ever had with my writing. A business blog – great fun! If you are a business person and you love to write, this is the best time to be alive doing it. I think of Talking Story as a way of celebrating the spirit of aloha, wherein people who read my blog can participate and share their own spirit. Often I find some who are like me: they write more fluently and more carefully than they speak, and they do it beautifully.

Mahalo: Thank you David, for helping me write this down. You didn’t know you did this for me until now, and I wanted to tell you. This sample of my writing will likely get edited continually, and in another flash of inspiration, it could get totally changed. But it was only on Ripples, reading why you write, that I discovered this, at the very core of why I write:

I write so that I can sing, and so that I can draw.
If I may humbly say so, when I write I have a beautiful voice.
When I write I create amazing pictures.

And in doing so, I am complete.

Postscript: To be clear, if you were to ask me why I blog, the answer would be much different. Talking Story does give the writer in me a marvelous outlet, however truth be told, I started to blog for my business. Perhaps that will be another post for another day.

Tag: . . .

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

David St Lawrence January 24, 2005 at 1:30 pm

I am touched beyond words.
If I never wrote another post, I’d feel complete, because I have inspired a kindred spirit to find her own voice.
This is the power of blogging, to pass the torch of inspiration on to whoever wishes to grasp it.
Truly heady stuff. No wonder this citizen publishing is so addictive!

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Dave January 25, 2005 at 1:35 am

David – not only did you inspire a kindred spirit to find her own voice, you inspired me to find Rosa as well, and for that my brother, I cannot thank you enough.
Rosa – as David gives words dignity, you instill reverence in the art of business through your masterfully articulated description of Hawaiian values.

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Talking Story with Say Leadership Coaching February 20, 2008 at 7:10 am

You know you love writing when you don’t have to keep it

Aloha kaua e, On Valentines Day, Joanna Young The Confident Writing Coach presented her readers with a challenge to write about “My Love Affair with Writing.” I loved the idea and decided to take up her challenge immediately, for no

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