Writing and Me

Writing is such a pernicious thing, isn’t it? Once it takes hold of you, it doesn’t ever truly let go. Donning the identity of “writer” is practically a surgery, a process that will leave the participant subtly changed in ways that they may never recognize. Maybe that responsibility to an identity is why it’s frightening to think about calling myself a writer. I merely write, arguably as do we all. Because ultimately we frame all thoughts — fleeting or lasting — into the context of words.

The skill of writing is just slowing down enough to capture those words into a script outside the mind. The science behind it is fascinating enough, studying the etymology and phonemes and diphthongs of every nuance in the study of language, but the art of it is almost impenetrable. Who can suggest why melodies sound the way they do except to throw their hands up and shrug? So what does that make good writing? The art or the science? The Taoist answer is that it’s the harmony of both; the Kantian answer is that it is the synthesis of both. Who cares? It’s enough to call it mystery and let flow good writing, judged only by the ability of that writing to most efficiently transfer the thoughts of the author into the mind of the reader, whatever avenue that happens to take. This means, of course, considering the sheer breadth of experiences in the world that writing has almost no meaning in generalities. The individual author has a task to throw into the zeitgeist of mankind their own stories, so that someone somewhere somewhen will be able to get something from distantly sympathizing with the mind of the author. In other words, it’s not necessary to write everything for everybody.

But going back to that efficiency factor of transferring thought into words… truly there is something lost in translation, right? Once we can read minds or upload thoughts directly into the brain, writing will be a dead craft, relegated to the same dusty shelf as weaving or coffee brewing. Well, certainly by that point humanity will have changed so fundamentally there’s a question of whether it’s even possible to fathom the similarities between such a society and ours. Techno-nihilism aside, converting feelings, experiences, expressions, and all of those undefined concepts into words is a process that involves analysis, which in Greek means to “loosen,” or more loosely, to break down into component parts. In short, it means to smash it apart and look at what’s inside, and this means that the gestalt of the concept is lost upon examination. Only upon examining can we then assign a word to whatever was inside, and that assignment even has a probability of error. To complicate things further, the reader then must take that word and consider the meaning of it in conjunction with all of the other preceding and succeeding words, which has its own probability of error, and it boils down to mere chance that any one person will understand the intent of the any other. Miscommunication should honestly be the expectation. How privileged we are as a species that it is not, though considering how often it happens, maybe we’re just entitled. I suppose we have thousands of years of evolution to thank for that, too.

To take apart something and transport it little by little to be reconstructed elsewhere is essentially the topographic map of communication. Creativity is its own special monster, as is story crafting, story telling, and all of the children that stem from communicating. Writing, however, is more than just the break down of ideas into words… it’s the distillation of the human desire to be remembered — to be acknowledged. Writing is the sublimation of the will to leave something behind and be immortalized, as well as the wish for an intimate connection with one other person, the reader. Should the reader respond back with writing, a two-sided relationship is made. It’s the crystallization of man’s loneliness and terror of an uncaring world, because while some writing is meant for a specific person to read, is it not the case that most authors and writers do not know the reach of their own words?

So I’ll continue to write, perhaps for someone in particular, perhaps for no one, but so long as I write for myself, I’m sure there will be like-minded people out there eventually who will read my work and think, “I understand you.”

That’s really all any of us want, huh?


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