The Pull: Why do we write anyway?

May 16, 2015 | Cherie Dimaline

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The Pull

Why do we write anyway?


I wrote this in my personal blog last year:


It’s like this; there are times when the day splits along a seam and you fall into a place time doesn't know exists. It’s the opposite of anxiety; a freedom boxed in by the term 'happiness' where something animal emerges, the kind of animal that appreciates chai lattes with espresso shots and the Marigny bars of New Orleans. There's no telling when it'll come, and no way to make it last. Just walk. And take in the click and crack of each rib's stretch to allow the possibility of seam-slipping afternoons.”


Then I re-read it yesterday; truth be told, I was on my blog trying to pilfer content for this one. And then something happened. I felt the exact same way I felt when I wrote it. I could feel my feet up on the butcher-block desk, breathing in the bits of fresh air blowing in the old window in that dark office above an abandoned café. And I felt the seams start to split. And I realized, that contrary to my philosophical musings, you can tell when the feeling happens, you can in fact, make it happen.


Of course, the original feeling must come from somewhere, some place dark and mystical and maybe even mundane. Then you take that original sentiment and wrap it up in a bit of art- capture it in the colours of a painting, cage it in the melody of a beautiful song, or write it out onto the bars of a page. And then it’s yours forever. This is what true art is, no matter what the medium. Being an artist being zookeeper to beautiful and ferocious creatures you’ve hunted. Sometimes something gets published, or hung in a gallery or sung on a stage and then you are allowing others to see your menagerie, to experience the terrifying thrill of sharp teeth and boney wings so close to your own soft skin.


And then this must be the pull. Because this is not Paris of 1925 or even 1952, and there is not much glory left in the publicly funded arts world. But somehow we keep hunting and collecting and scrounging up the food to keep the creatures at bay. And once in a while, we are graced with a shifting, curious crowd at the gates, holding their tickets and waiting for the magic to begin.