My Oldest Friend

Kathleen Vaught

You would think if a person considers themselves to be a writer at their core, it would be easy enough to describe what being a writer means.  

Yea. Whatever.

I know in my spiritual center, the part of me that has been around much longer than this particular body, I am a storyteller. A storyteller who writes. And occasionally acts. Onstage. With spotlights and costumes and applause. But mostly a storyteller who writes.

Simple, right? 

Never! I’m a writer, remember? I will go out of my very own way to explain how the meaning of writing lies not within the expanded universal metaphysics and mechanics of my belief in storytelling but in its simplicity. See? It’s like trying to explain what having sight means. I can learn and regurgitate optical anatomy, and how great it is to see my kids faces, great works of art and the glow tape so I don’t fall, but the truth is I don’t know a life without sight. I have always been able to see. A person blind from birth would have a difficult time explaining what it means to not be able to see without a reference point of comparison.

That’s where this is headed.

I have the same relationship with writing – I have never not known myself to convey story in some fashion or form of writing. Sometimes I write words using the ancient practice of “pen to paper,” but it is usually with a keyboard attached to some magical, internetical cloud. I like to make up words. More often than I should admit, I write stories in the air with conversations and intimate dialogs. My favorite is when there is group of people who actually paid to witness and record these interactions with their brain cells and heartbeats. This relationship with writing, my relationship, is much like an internal organ necessary to keep me breathing or breaking down toxic waste. 

I happen to believe it’s this way for every human. We are all storytellers in some way, passing on our humanity to each generation. The only difference among us is that some embrace the ability with craft, manipulation and study, while others utilize storytelling as is without another thought. There are a great many of us who fall somewhere in between. 

In my particular time as a writer on Earth, I have come to regard this elemental part of me as an old and true friend. Much like my furry familiar pets, writing is the kind of friend who is unconditional. It is willing to suit up and show up without question or complaint, whether in the middle of the night during a blinding snowstorm or on a lunch break running an errand for my children. This old friend returns to me after years of neglect or countless attempts at misguided use. My friend never lies to me, sugarcoats bitter bits nor shrinks in the face of deep darkened truths. I am the one who cowers under the covers contemplating calling in sick over a hangnail, and yet my friend does not judge or withhold its gifts as a consequence. It does not make me suffer for my art or require any sort of comeuppance. 

All it wants is for the harmonized and relaxed feeling to wash over me when I am with my writing. 

Like now.

Thus, it is within this decidedly verbose allegorical framework I continue to develop my relationship with my writing through style, experimentation and dedication. I continue because this journey is a long one. No matter how much gray hair you see or lived-in wrinkles I attempt to cover up, I have but made a mere start at understanding who I am, what my talents are and how they fit together as my contribution to the whole.  

I am forever grateful for my old friend and the chance to write our story.

And maybe act it out with light specials, rehearsed cadence and clapping. Lots and lots of clapping.