Why I Write: theory of writing [beta]

I can write, but I cannot speak. My mouth dislikes words, so I must resort to pen and pad. The flow of thought differs between speech and writing. When I write I tend to be alone. When I speak I tend to be surrounded. I do no like to be surrounded. Being surrounded makes my heart stutter. When I’m surrounded I fear that bad things will happen. This is why I write, to escape the onslaught of stares and judgements I imagine looming overhead. When I write I get to craft what is said. I’m aware that it will be read, but more often than not, what I write isn’t read in my presence. If it is, I tend to leave the room. What I write is mine, yes, but  it isn’t really me on the page. My thoughts make their way to the page, they creep out of my mind and drip onto the page. There is a level of commitment required to make it to the end in writing, but the process is just that–process. It may never have definitive start and end points, there are always “opportunities for improvement,” but there are unavoidable points where what has been written must be submitted, when it must be opened up and exposed. While listening and reading are both consumptive, the later is tangible. People can physically mark it, they can classify it, it is solid. Even if there is a mistake, the mistake can be highlighted, flagged, changed. In speech some of this can be achieved via recordings, but there are few opportunities for change. I need these opportunities, I need to mold my thoughts, massage them and manipulate them. I need experimentation. I need it to be read. Writing is a dialogue, regardless of the form, it will be read and digested by other minds than that of the author. It has to be, otherwise what’s the point? It’s a slow dialogue, sometimes one-sided, sometimes rhetorical, sometimes entertaining. I need time, so I write.

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2 thoughts on “Why I Write: theory of writing [beta]

  1. Hey Nathaniel, I enjoyed your word choice for “massaging your thoughts”. Descriptive and accurate. I also like how you differentiate you from your thoughts, and how the two aren’t exactly the same.

    I think the key terms to your piece here would be isolation, completion, and revision.

    Isolation plays into the idea that you need to be alone to write and how you struggle to speak in front of others. As Ong mentioned, writing separates the author from his/her audience. You interpret this to be a positive thing, as it gives you the space / isolation needed to fully consider your thoughts — to focus on writing as opposed to people listening.

    Completion goes into your idea that a work is never truly finished, but there comes a point where it must be released. You’ve done the best you can (given your limitations), and now it’s time for the world to see.

    Revision follows your idea of writing being tangible and editable. You can mark it down, submit it for changes, and–as a whole–revise it. Perhaps even re-envision it. This can also go along with what you were talking about with writing being a dialogue. You can take the feedback and make modifications as need be. Though I’m unsure to level of success this can happen in works such as published books and whatnot.

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  2. I would agree that you place a heavy emphasis on the act of revision – and maybe this has to do with your experience as a musician. Private lessons are rarely just an hour long session of your teaching praising you, they are learning new ways to improve what you’re working on, no matter how much you have “mastered” it. And in the same way, there comes a time when you must perform the piece, whether ready or not.

    I would also say that you place emphasis on writing as expression. Yes, spoken language is a form of expression/communication, but often times what comes out of our mouths the first time is not exactly what we meant. A written text may communicate the same thing that you might have spoken, but it does it in a more accurate way. Writing it gives you time to say what you want to say in the best way possible, rather than just letting the words come out as they may with little room for correction as in spoken language.

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