Sunday, October 30, 2011

Writing to feel right

I read today that writing is a way of making an intangible idea something more concrete. It’s a method from which thoughts become actions—springboards for doing and becoming. These are observations perhaps self-evident, but I also read today that you learn something every time a known notion is repeated or said in a different way. Therefore, I’ll continue. 

If writing something down makes hibernating thoughts, opinions or objectives active, then we better start writing. For some, this means writing down chores, schedules or even dreams. I’m one of those “some,” just take a look at my planner. But there’s more to this. Writing is also the ability to creatively express myself in a way I can more fully control. I’m not a natural public speaker. Because I can’t produce magic as easily in a conversation as in an essay or poem, I write because then I am given not only control but time. Time to think, to edit, to rewrite. We all have the same language or word choice, yet we invest our personalities and prejudices into these choices and make them our own. We’re like literary musicians. Like a composer who only has certain beats or tones, we’re limited to a number of words. But when you write something and you make it your own, you see the beauty behind the art. You’ve created something no one else ever has; and it is incredibly satisfying. 

A professor of mine says that if you’re a writer, you simply have to write. For some reason, this was at first something of a revelation to me. “Do I have to write?” I thought. Perhaps I’ve never felt the void because I’ve made writing, inadvertently, a huge part of my life through class choices and my fields of study. Perhaps, had I not, I’d feel more of a desire or need to do so. I hope I’ll never have to find out. I also hope I’ve made a good decision in allowing myself to think that this is what I want to do with my life, in some way or another. I’ll disregard the lack of value towards reading in down time, the evolution of hard copies into digital formats and the infestation of sites like Twitter limiting expression to 160 with the conviction that words are one of the most powerful tools we contain. As many have noted, they start wars or create peace. They cut others or build them up. They spread hatred or ignite joy. Mastering the use of words, then, has been and will always be, a crucial power to possess. Recognize this, and we’ll not only think more carefully about what we write or say, but how we write or say it. 

In the meantime, I think I’ll keep writing.

"I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear."  -Joan Didion