"I'm nothing without you but a writer who is writing that she's a writer who is nothing without her writing ..."

-- Daniela Gioseffi

I'm Nothing Without My Writing

   by Daniela Gioseffi

"I'm nothing without my writing," this can't be! I'm a mother, daughter, sister, wife and friend, a world peace activist and an Hispanic-Jewish--Italian Greek-who has struggled for the right to write and be heard amidst the din of a majority culture! "I'm nothing without my writing," just can't be so, but whenever I'm not writing, everything else I am can go--sour as old forgotten dough, low as an old black crow with a broken wing pecking at leftover garbage fallen by the pail. The sun shines pale through the clouds of not saying on paper what bubbles up in me. I get on an eating spree to make up for not talking on paper. An oral fixation comes naturally to those verbally loquacious in writing, but shy, often taciturn in public, who sit alone in rooms in front of keyboards that make music only for the eyes translated by the mind into meaning--sounds that come from exhaled breath.

I'm nothing without my word processor processing words, lighting up new ideas, my fingers speak who I am, because I'm that peculiar bird called "a writer" who has to sing who I am, and what I see, telling it on paper to imaginary friends--who share the experience of being alive on this earth, at this time in this space of history, herstory.

Just living isn't enough for me without a comment on what's reality or fantasy, some written word that names things and says who we are to each other, or might become, or have been, as in the beginning the Biblical saying goes: there was "The Word," which allowed us to share what we are with each other. Yet words are made of human breath, the exhalation of carbon dioxide, wasted respiratory stuff from which we articulate and shape symbols into phonation, the larynx like a violin vibrating with chords and strings, sound symbols upon which we agree through centuries of painstaking lexicography: words that convey meaning and sense and dreams and hopes and fantasies as well as our differing, sometimes clashing realities as they're shared through some process of innervation, nerve responses, synapses in the brain, translating symbolic markings from breath as sound, the violin of the voice box on the top of the trachea behind our Adam's and Eve's apples, our throats bulging with song vibrations made into symbols in ink, translated in the brain to something lived and shared through the published page.

This lonely job I choose despite myself and knowing better through all the expressed duress of writers who came before me--my work as "the writing self" who dreams in ink, black on white, the blood of the writer's art. Darker than a silent night, ink illuminates all we write, and from the heart our hopes and failures and dreams and emotions, even love, itself, that love which Dickinson wrote, lonely and alone at her art, "is all we know of love" is wrought to being by our "magic potion," ink! Ink, ink, associating freely, when I can't write, I make a "stink" about everything else that I am, mother, daughter, wife, sister and friend. To the page, to the eyes, to the heart, to the mind, "I'm nothing without my writing!" It can't be, though here I am writing so in pixels or ink that electric or carbon potion which records all our lives and thoughts and emotion without which I say my writing self is nothing but the something I become when articulating time in prose that rhymes with a sense of all I'm wanting to be, a writer who is writing, but selling, too, naturally.

So, I have to agree with the words that appear before me: "I'm nothing without my writing," but all I'm longing to be and see and tell and know: I'm a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife and a friend who often sits alone with her thoughts, just like you, Dear Reader. I'm nothing without you but a writer who is writing that she's a writer who is nothing without her writing as she is writing this for you, to see and know who she is, like you, just another human articulated by the contrast that creates all perception, black on white, the magic tradition that since words were born from breath into longing to share experience of this universal mystery of wondrous being, in gregarious oral tradition set to paper, words made from breath into symbolic sound--but only if you indulge the ocular perception of auditory reception and receive me into being as I write to be, naming myself with words that breathe me into being until I be.

Copyright 1998, Daniela Gioseffi. Published by permission of the author.


Founding editor of Wise Women's Web and Skylands Writers & Artists Association, Daniela Gioseffi is an American Book Award winning author of twelve books from major presses and two grants, one in poetry and one in prose, from The New York State Council for the Arts. Women on War [Simon & Schuster/Touchstone: NY, 1990] was also published by Frauenverlag in Vienna in German. On Prejudice: A Global Perspective [Doubleday/Anchor, 1993] won a grant award from The Ploughshares Fund World Peace Foundation was also published in Tokyo in Japanese. She has published two books of poetry: Word Wounds & Water Flowers [Via Folios at Purdue University, 1995] and Eggs in the Lake [Boa Editions, Rochester, NY, 1980.] Gioseffi has published her work in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, among them The Paris Reveiw, The Nation, Chelsea, Choice, Prairie Schooner, MS. and Kaleidescope: Stories of the American Experience [Oxford University Press, 1993.] She reads her work and lectures widely throughout the USA and Europe. She taught at New York University's Publishing Institute, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Long Island University and other institutions. She is a ptofessional jazz singer, song lyricist and painter. Her feminist novel, The Great American Belly [Doubleday/ Dell, NY, and New English Library, London,1979] was optioned for a screenplay for Warner Bros. by Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright, Michael Christopher, and also published in Croatian in Zagreb. Her recent book of stories & novella [from Avisson Press, Greensboro, NC. 1997] is titled In Bed with the Exotic Enemy. She has won a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award for her story, "Daffodil Dollars," aired on National Public Radio, "The Sound of Words." Daniela has broadcast on many radio and television stations, for example, the BBC at Oxford, National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., Pacifica's WBAI, NY. A widely published literary critic who writes regularly for American Book Review, The Hungry Mind Review, Independent Publishing, and The Small Press Review, she is published on line at a variety of sites and is a member of The National Book Critics Circle and PEN American Center.

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