“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:” – Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII
I write with the same confusion that Pablo Neruda loves with in his sonnet. I don’t know how or when or from where. I just always have done it. I do it “straightforwardly, without complexities or pride.” I write because I “know no other way.” I’m not stupid enough to believe that I popped out of Claudia Green back in 1980 with a typewriter or steno pad, but it sometimes feels like it. It’s what I’ve always done and what I’ll probably be doing the day that I collapse onto the keyboard and my face types a final line of “dsfasdfdsvdscjndnfiudnfunf” on this shitty laptop for my loved ones to remember me by.
One of my earliest memories of writing was when, as an eight-year-old, I witnessed my favorite teacher assaulted by her boyfriend. As the sole eyewitness, I was asked to testify against him which was a pretty scary proposition for a little kid, especially since he was my P.E. teacher. When I got to the courthouse with my mom, the attorney asked if I wanted to just talk to the judge in private and not have to get on the stand in front of everyone. I asked if it would be ok to just write out what I saw instead. The lawyer and judge were shocked; I assume because no kid had ever wanted to write their testimony out before. I compiled all of my thoughts into an outline, then typed up what I had to say with my mom’s old typewriter. I didn’t attend any of the trial, but judging by Ms. Lee’s hug a few weeks later at school, I think we sent the bastard to jail. I had seen the power in my written words.
As a student going through school with Attention Deficit Disorder, I feel like my love of writing probably saved me numerous times and most likely was the sole reason I was able to graduate at all. Of course, back in the 80’s, we didn’t have ADD, they just said we were badass little kids who couldn’t sit still. I was the king of waiting until the last second to do my Science, Social Studies, or even AP English work and still doing a good enough job to pass. It’s the story of my life really; doing just enough to get by at the very last second. My ability to throw words together into cohesive sentences in a split second and people think I worked for hours is my main gift.
I’ve been writing as a job for a while now. I haven’t gotten rich off of my writing, but at every turn, my writing has guided me into the next step of my life. I got into different programs in the Army by writing. I got out of the Army by writing. I became the sports editor at a newspaper by writing. I got into my Master’s program by writing. I make most of my wife’s Christmas, birthday and anniversary presents with my writing.
If you have seen the musical Hamilton or read the amazing biography Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow, you know that Alexander Hamilton wrote constantly and used it to get himself into and out of a lot of different situations. I feel the same way. Hopefully, it doesn’t kill me in the end like it did the “10 dollar founding father.” Writing has definitely been with me when I’ve been close to death. It’s brought me back from the edge several times. I love writing. I write because I truly know no other way; never have.
Whether by my own doing or just by sheer cosmic coincidental bullshit luck, life hasn’t always been a bed of roses. When times have been rough, writing was always there for me. Couldn’t figure out what to do next? Write. Couldn’t figure out where to go next? Write. Some people sew. Some people paint. Some people read. I write.
I’ve written wedding vows; a few too many times. I’ve written eulogies; a few too many times. I’ve written a suicide letter.
I’ve written songs and poetry. I’ve written birth announcements. I’ve interviewed the homeless. I’ve interviewed millionaires.
I’ve written on almost every continent. I’ve written covered in my own blood. I’ve written while covered in another man’s blood.
I’ve paid to write and been paid to write. I just write. It’s what I do. It always will be. I know no other way.
Jason Green is a retired U.S. Army veteran with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He holds a B.A. in Multimedia Journalism from the University of Texas at El Paso and is currently finishing his M.F.A in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Denver. Jason is the father of two boys, Tristan and Gavin, the greatest dog in the world, Nellie, and has been married to his one true love for 15 years, Sofia.