The Writer As Artist

The Writer As Artist

With special thanks to Cormac McCarthy and his lack of punctuation

My life has been a series of questions lately: “Where are you applying for college?” “What do you want to study?” “What could you possibly do with a degree like that?”

My answers tend to be a series of hesitant pauses and repetitions of “I don’t know” and nervous laughter. As a result, I’ve started asking myself the same questions: “Is this what you want?” “Would you like to be a writer?” “What is it you enjoy about English anyway?”

I continually simplify the questions, and I continually cannot find the answers.

Earlier today, I was doing my homework for my high school literature class. One of our assignments was to watch an interview between Oprah and Cormac McCarthy, the author of "The Road and All the Pretty Horses." We read that book over the summer for our AP Literature class. I remember being so startled when I opened the novel. There was not a single comma, quotation mark or chapter break in sight. McCarthy simply didn’t include what he felt to be excessive and superfluous punctuation. He felt that “over-punctuation” interrupted the flow of the work and made it more difficult to read. McCarthy even ventured so far as to say, “If you write properly, you don’t have to punctuate.”

As some type of ex-middle school grammar fanatic, I would have assumed McCarthy’s style and writing ideals would be extremely difficult to grasp. Before I’d read "The Road and All the Pretty Horses", I probably would’ve laughed and called McCarthy crazy. I suppose the cliché “don’t judge a book by its cover” truly comes into play here. I remember texting my friends after a first glance at the novel about how conflicted I felt; I love stylistic writing, but I still care deeply about grammatical structure. As I continued to read, I found myself becoming awestruck. The punctuation — or lack thereof — became necessary to me as a reader, and it felt as if it were a part of the story. It characterized the book, the protagonist and the journey. The style was new to me. It was brilliant.

Writers like Cormac McCarthy, E.E. Cummings and Markus Zusak challenge the parameters of English, take the language back to its roots, and make us ponder what it means to write. Of course, this list of authors is nowhere near all-inclusive, as I have so much left to read in this world. People like them push the boundaries, take their works to the next level, turn literature — what many throw away as simply another subject to pass in school — into art. Pictures are painted, lives are carved, and people are immortalized without a single brushstroke. Words are the medium with which writers sculpt.

The next time an adult asks me where I’m going to college, my answer will still likely be that I’m not yet sure. I know these questions about my plans will come up again and again, and I will probably respond with a shrug and say, “I was thinking of pursuing a career in English.”

When that same person inevitably, with a downward pull of their lips and the “that doesn’t make any money” look in their eye, blurts out a curt “why?” I will have an answer: Sometimes I read a book, and it evokes such an emotional response that I’m brought to tears. Other times I am so inspired to write that the keys cannot move fast enough to keep up with my stream of thought. It is in those moments — a sky cascading with vibrant pink and blinding orange, a forest engulfed by a rushing river like the soft cry before the flood, a breeze so gentle it’s a whisper within your heart — that landscapes encompass the mind and life rushes forth behind our eyes.

Though I have never been able to paint to save my life or draw much more than a stick figure, I have always felt some strange desire to be an artist. I think maybe I still can be. My canvas, comprised of paper, calls to me, inspiration finds me as a vivid scene roars to life like a calming storm in my thoughts, I search for my pencil (my paintbrush of choice) hidden beneath the dust of memory, and I write.

does a writer always need something to write about?

or can he write anything he pleases

and will it to sound beautiful?

“today I went to Church.

a child talked throughout the service.

I looked at my hands.”

there is no grace in this.

what gives the singer the ability to hum a tune she doesn't know?

the sound escapes her lips,

the beauty enters my heart.

how does she turn the world into a song?

words are cheap.

I have thousands.

and I’ve paid for none.

but I can shape them.

and they can shape me.

as the singer takes the song from the wreckage,

I take the words from the rubble.

I will construct a house,

and she will burn the earth.

and neither of us will touch a damn thing.

-maggie connolly

Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.

Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Poetry On The Odyssey: It's a Girl

An ode to the little girl raised to be insecure.


They raise little girls to be insecure

Little girls grow to be big girls

People always ask big girls why they're so insecure

Big girls aren't quite sure

Day after day the big girl can't keep up

She's exhausted

Her soul feels worn

The big girl learns to grow hard

In a way, she's a bit stronger

People call her a bitch


What is that?

How can she let that affect her

It's simply the only way to be her

She mourns that little girl

Hoping that one day

She'll be strong

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