On Why I Write


I write out the dark places, but this does not mean I live in the dark. My home is loving and good. It does not mean anything except that I’m normal. Like everyone, I get backed into corners I didn’t even know were there, and then I have to write myself out of them. Sometimes I have to ask for wisdom and then dig myself out with words, and digging requires a memory and one that seems completely unrelated to the corner I’m in.

A tire swing hangs at the high point of a hill and looks down over the deck my daddy built and painted red, the one attached to the trailer. It overlooks the field that my great-grandmother owns, the one we can walk through to her house, the one a man rents to keep his starving horses.

Around here are copperheads. I always watch. I never didn’t, even though I am only four. I am so proud of the time I pushed my sister back hard and kept her from stepping down on the coil. We ran together up the hill to daddy, and the trees were skyscrapers. He took a hoe and chopped it in half, and the head still hissed and bit, the mind still left without the heart.

I write it. Remember the tire swing. Remember my home that was loving and good. Finally, I can play at the swing. I’m allowed to go out, maybe after picking up toys, and my whole body enters in to swing high from a pine, and when I do, the wasps swarm, and even though I bear stings all the time, this time it hurt so that I will remember it years later, when I’m a grown woman with children and a favorite coffee mug.

The swing was a safe place. I didn’t know then how I would always love to hold on, push my feet hard a few times and then close my eyes, let my hair tangle, feel the safe vertigo, the giving up of a foot hold. I will always love to feel the wind. I didn’t know.

Rather than getting in the middle, I sit on top of the tire, full body round the rope, and a wildcat screams so close to me that my ghost lets go a bit, almost leaves my body, floats over the catfish pond. I know if that cat came out I am only a little girl on a swing.

I can’t always keep my grip. Another time, I hear a long, deafening roar that shakes the rope, and I think I must be confused about Jesus coming back, think Satan is coming first. I get so scared that I fall and hit the ground hard, and then I see, for the first time – living near NASA – a wide formation of huge aircraft skim the pines so that  my heart hammers through my skin.

This is a lesson in safe places. There is but One. I write out the dark places, because when I expose them, when I remember truth, when I see the little girl in me, and I run to Invisible Daddy, I am safe, the snake’s biting mouth in plain sight.

amberhaines
About me

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27 Comments

Lindsey Nobles
Reply February 24, 2010

Love this..."I write out the dark places, because when I expose them, when I remember truth, when I see the little girl in me, and I run to Invisible Daddy, I am safe, the snake’s biting mouth in plain sight."

Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms
Reply February 24, 2010

So beautifully said, Amber (as always)!

I loved this: "Sometimes I have to ask for wisdom and then dig myself out with words, and digging requires a memory and one that seems completely unrelated to the corner I’m in."

So true, so true!

Thanks for the beautiful reminder that running to His arms is the sure-fire way to pierce those dark places with light. Awesome post!

Jo@Mylestones
Reply February 24, 2010

This is my favorite: "I get backed into corners I didn’t even know were there, and then I have to write myself out of them. Sometimes I have to ask for wisdom and then dig myself out with words..."
My head hurts from all the nodding in agreement. (Well, it probably hurts a little from being 10x it's normal weight too, seeing as I have a head cold bullying me this week).
Lovely post, friend.

Kelly Langner Sauer
Reply February 24, 2010

ditto to what Jo said...

"...When I’m a grown woman with children and a favorite coffee mug."

My favorite line of the post - I love the way you phrase things. Glad I caught this on Twitter just now. So worth the read...

deb
Reply February 24, 2010

I hope it's okay to say I could read you like this for hours.
That you don't feel pressure, just like how the wind is there whenever you feel like swinging into it.

Lora Lynn
Reply February 24, 2010

There is but One safe place.

Soothing reminder. Thank you, friend.

Melissa
Reply February 24, 2010

You also lead us from corners we didn't know about...thanks!

Caroline@carolinecollie
Reply February 24, 2010

Amen. I needed that, too. and Amen.

Prudence
Reply February 24, 2010

Beautiful!

Monica
Reply February 24, 2010

Thank you for this soothing reminder of so many things. Of the reason that we write, remember, and live.

Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting
Reply February 24, 2010

Absolutely gorgeous post. And so are you :)

To Think Is To Create
Reply February 24, 2010

Writing so Light can sunshine disinfect all those dark places. Love.

Corinne
Reply February 24, 2010

"I write out the dark places, but this does not mean I live in the dark."
I love the acceptance that there are dark corner, dark places. Without them everything else wouldn't seem so good. Love that you have the courage to face them.

Secret Agent Mama
Reply February 24, 2010

You. Wow.

Linda
Reply February 24, 2010

I could feel myself carried back to my own dark corners. Just wonderful Amber.

frelle
Reply February 24, 2010

Thank you for the words you chose here, for sharing your heart. I had wondered what in particular inspired me to write the "why am I here" recent post on my blog. it was having read this entry earlier in the week.. it stayed with me. I really love to visit here and stay awhile to hear from you, and ultimately, from God as well.

Ashleigh (Heart and Home)
Reply February 24, 2010

I get backed into corners I didn’t even know were there, and then I have to write myself out of them.

Yes. That.

bekah
Reply February 25, 2010

such truth, amber!
calling the lies for what they are...they lose their sting.
write the dark places, name the lies.
it allows me, to do the same.
thank you

Danielle
Reply February 25, 2010

I love hearing why writers write. I always say I have to "write myself out" meaning I have to write what I lived to realize I lived them. Or write to understand what I think, because until I write it down, sometimes I'm not always sure.

Thanks for sharing why you write!

Boy Crazy (@claritychaos)
Reply February 25, 2010

OH how I wish you were in my writing practice. How I would love to hear you read this aloud, and then have the opportunity to peel back all the layers and tie the knots between connected pieces and tell you all of what I see in this - because there is SO MUCH in these pieces you write.

I love how the brain works when you let it move uninhibited. I love the way it makes connections between memories and feelings and experiences that we wouldn't necessarily make in total consciousness. Those connections we make when looking back over what our hearts and minds just poured onto paper are the best gifts, in my mind.

I can tell you with complete honesty that you have become my favorite writer, Amber. If I had a choice among the bookstore shelves, I'd pull down your writing before I grabbed for my go-to girls - Anne, Annie, Barbara or even Natalie. I am smitten with the way your write, my friend. You have such an amazing gift.

xoxo elizabeth

Megan
Reply February 25, 2010

Just like someone above, my favorite line is "when I'm a grown woman with children and a favorite coffee mug." I love the juxtaposition of carefree youth and responsible adulthood. And the message that God meets us in both places.

Leslie
Reply February 26, 2010

Such vibrant and thought-provoking writing. Thanks for your vulnerability and for the inspiration :)

Ally B
Reply February 26, 2010

You hit me in the gut, Amber. Right. There.

emily wierenga
Reply February 26, 2010

amber,
i am nurtured by these words. i too, wonder why i write but somehow, cannot stop for all of the dark places, light places, and places in-between.
i'm looking forward to rooming with you and ann at the festival. peace, e.

Casual Friday Every Day
Reply February 26, 2010

"I write out the dark places, but this does not mean I live in the dark.'

Powerful truth. A truth I hope people know about me. Though I write some darkness, I certainly don't snuff out all of the light in my life.

Beautifully written.

Nell

thegypsymama
Reply February 27, 2010

I'm with Nell, that first line says it all. I often feel like the only appropriate response to what you write is a simple, "Amen."

laura
Reply May 3, 2010

beautiful. cindy passed your blog on to me...your husband and mine went to the same HS in fort smith. mine did his mfa in fiction at tx state. we just brought our daughter konjit home from ethiopia a month ago. we are in heaven. happy to have been turned on to your blog. i'll be reading.
best,
laura, displaced southerner in the BK (brooklyn)

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