What Writing Can Do For the Restless Soul


“I’ve written a song,” he says. And he sings it all day long… and the next. It fills the rooms and his siblings throw pillows at him and I stop them and tell him that his work is good.

“But Mommy, what if I forget my song? I’m starting to forget. It seems to change a bit every time I sing it.”

“Oh… well, you should really write it down. That’s what writers do when they don’t want to forget.”

I glance out of the corner of my eye to see how he takes that. Because the child does not like to write. The act of writing causes various expressions of misery to plague his sweet face. His spine stiffens and my young sponge becomes like impervious steel. I am gentle with him in this matter. I do not like to bang my head against a brick wall and I would prefer not to force teach. I throw a prayer up to the patron saint of reluctant writers (i.e. any saint who would like to take the job) and trust that he will eventually embrace this on his own. He is an exceptional reader. But those fingers… bah.

His brow furrows as I expect it to and he stands silent. The eyes squint as if he’s in pain and he bites his lips and kicks the floor with his toe. And then he leaves the room. When he returns, only ten minutes have passed… and he hands me two pages of solid writing.

“I’ve done it,” he says. I stand speechless, staring at work that would normally represent a substantial amount of time and misery.

I notice that in his haste to pour out the contents of his mind and heart, he has neglected pretty much all punctuation and various other details involved with the art of writing. Today, it really doesn’t matter…. because today, he found a reason to write. The rest will come.

He starts to notice his failings…
“I don’t know how to spell, Mommy.”

“You’re getting better. Once you choose to learn it, you will.”

“My writing looks crummy.”

“It’s not as bad as it used to be… but if you want to change it, you’ll need to spend more time writing. Perhaps you could write more songs.”

The incessantly loud singing that has plagued his siblings for 48 hours comes to stop and the restless child is temporarily at peace. And his mother takes the carefully trimmed and stapled pages and hugs them to her very soul and prays…

Dear Lord, please don’t let me forget my song. I’m starting to forget….


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