About Words

David Blaikie

Writing is like baking bread. Every day I knead the keys and words rise up. Mostly they are unremarkable, letters and e-mail, unread journals, decades of newspaper articles, the every day prose of the communications field. But every day they matter because they keep the voice alive.

Most of what I’ve written over the years I’ll never see again — or want to. The words are scattered in libraries and data bases, buried in computer files or old hard drives, archived on the internet. None are worth much in the scheme of things.

Yet there is a value to all writing, if only a reminder to the fingertips that anything worth saying is worth saying well. I still love the perfect lead, the dancing headline, the quote that sparkles on the page.

The first job of any writer is to get out of the way. All good writing is a gift from a higher source and humility is the surest way to gets its ear. The source will always sing if a writer can be still enough to listen, as Thoreau was at Walden, Kerouac On the Road, or Dylan at Desolation Row.

Most words are unremarkable. They live for today and are gone, like bread from the shelves. There is nothing older than yesterday’s newspapers, yet few things more wondrous, stitching together as they do the fleeting moments of our times.

Since I left the news business, I’ve had a second career in the labour movement, and odd as it may seem, it too has been a good place to be a writer. A writer should live where his heart lies, be it in business, politics, the arts or elsewhere.

I love the early mornings by the window, the quiet hum of the computer, the soft clicking of the keys. I love the afternoons and evenings too, for that matter. There is no bad time of day for writing.

Here you will find a scattering of things I have written over many years, much of it personal — old poems yellow with age, diary entries, thoughts of life on the fly. There is no particular meaning to any of it. I do not present it as having any great merit. It’s merely a glimpse of where life has taken me, another scrapbook on the internet - for anyone who cares to read it.

My grandmother kept a diary for more than 50 years. Almost nothing she wrote saw print. But I know why she did it, why she took her pen in hand, despite all the busy-ness of her life, and wrote something every day.

It was not for vanity or posterity, not even for her children or grandchildren. It was merely that the current flowed in her veins. Writers have no choice. They are doomed to let the words out. ©

David Blaikie is an Ottawa writer and photographer.