Leon A. Walker - In His Own Words
Leon A. Walker
Writing with Purpose
A writer is something which, at the core of me, I think have always been. Therefore, I regard this recognition by Mused as a very high compliment, and, to some degree, confirmation that I have achieved a personal measure of success in doing that about which I am intensely passionate. So this is a most welcome opportunity to share my motivations and inspirations with fellow writers.
For me, writing has always been all about really touching people with a lasting memory. I began developing the ability to reach people with words when I was very young. I am convinced that this all stemmed from my love for books and reading as a child. For reasons that remain inexplicable to me (even today) I had a propensity for becoming fully absorbed in stories and characters. When I began to write, I found it a necessary aspect of style to draw people in. To provide them with both a clear vision as well as a personal emotional experience. From as far back as primary school, I still recall that I looked forward to written assignments, like writing book reports, because I felt I could say things in written form in a way that was convincing and even attractive. I had that presence of mind even then. What I have become today as a writer is certainly no quantum leap.
In developing a story, I feel that the reader must be able to experience the event that I describe, almost as if it were in real time. As it relates to my inspiration or motivations, there will frequently be a powerful emotional message or lesson tied to the events I write about that, hopefully, create a lasting impact. It may be a happy or a sad response that I seek to achieve, but the writing must include that powerful emotional signature which elicits an appropriate emotional reaction. I call this writing with purpose. That purpose being to provide a glimpse of life through words, in a way that is filled with lessons and emotions that are as powerful as the concept of life itself.
Before the advent of email and the internet, I found myself traveling Europe and Asia quite extensively (during my military service). During those years, it became a minor obsession of mine to write long letters home to my parents. I wrote to them with the hope that I might somehow make them see, or in some small way understand, the excitement and fascination that I was experiencing in my travels (writing with purpose).
Although I did not realize it at the time, those letters were an exercise in writing that helped hone my skills. The message here being (like anything else) practice is essential. It was some time later that my mother told me how much she and my father had looked forward to those letters; and she also made a point of telling me that she shared them with friends and family. But, more importantly, she told me that I had a talent for writing that I should consider exploring. It was at that point that I did two things. First, I began to dabble in poetry and short stories, and second, I began to pay close attention to everything I wrote. Even if it were only a note or a birthday card; absolutely everything I wrote, I wanted to be appropriate, but with a unique or special wit or flare. I wanted it to be appreciated (writing with purpose).
Later in life, like many of us, I experienced my share of trying times. And during those times, I began to record stories and poems about the events themselves, and the emotions that I experienced. I can certainly say that there was a personal catharsis woven in this exercise; but I also wanted to record this period of time and preserve it as a season of learning. My initial intention had been to simply preserve these writings and perhaps, at some point, share them with my children and family members so that they might have a true impression of all that my life had been (writing with purpose). The written works from these trying times became the basis for my first book.
In my style of writing, the telling of a story almost always requires a significant amount of personal emotional daring. I believe that, in order to provide a clear snapshot into my own reflections, the feelings that are at the core of the experience which I am attempting to describe must shine through. So, by habit, I find a way to approach most writings emotionally unconstrained. If, in a particular story’s setting, I was happy or confused or heartbroken, I have to find the words to clearly convey to readers exactly what those emotions felt like. And this must be done within the context of a story in a way that justifies such emotions. So, in my view as the storyteller, I am obligated to provide a fearless and truthful impression of the emotions that were present. This sort of personal emotional daring can be daunting or perhaps even frightening to a writer. But it is a very powerful tool when you find the courage to let your inner most feelings be known. Think of it like a scene from a movie. There are the actual visual effects, and then there are the words. But often, it is also a musical score that provides the most emotionally compelling impact. In my writing, the words must create the scene; but they must also create the emotional music. And I am acutely focused on this as I write and as I edit my work.
Tell your stories. And do so beautifully and fearlessly, letting your soul flow through your pen. If you can find the courage to do that, and also to truthfully assess and appreciate what you have created, then you can call yourself a writer.