On Writing

On Writing

Every time I start writing on this blog, I notice that I'm putting into words knowledge that I've been accumulating for many years. When I started my Ph.D., I noticed more clearly how much of my work, that is, how many of my hours each day needed to be devoted to writing. For some time, I resisted that, thinking how I never signed-up to be a writer. That is, I didn't make a choice or wanted to declare myself as a writer. 

After many years of writing, I still don't really take the title of "writer" to define myself. Yet, most of what I teach to artists and what I go back to noticing is about the power of writing, the need of it. I see Mosab Abu Toha urging people to write now and talking about the importance of poetry to save the world, and I agree so much with him. And this week I believe I was able to touch again a bit of why writing is important. 

I finished reading Nine Moons by Gabriela Wiener and in one passage, she writes about being in her baby's nursery, the bedroom she was preparing for her yet-to-be-born baby. The way she describes herself being in this bedroom makes it sound like staying there, noticing everything in the bedroom, including her feelings and thoughts, was a fully intentional thing. I remembered being in Helena's nursery, which was really my own bedroom as we never put our babies in a separate room, but being there with her stuff while I was pregnant. I remember those moments of being there, looking at everything while imagining what was about to come as moments of daydreaming, as unproductive moments. While reading Wiener, though, I noticed the importance of being there, of letting myself be absorbed by feeling my babies presence over time, and living through her coming to life. If one wants to be productive all the time, which is not my point here, but if one needed to see everything through productivity, one could say that by daydreaming and noticing the new reality that is unfolding one is also learning how to act and getting prepared to what's to come. Through writing, Wiener put into an intentional framework actions that can otherwise be discarded as irrelevant.  

Now, writing is also a fundamental task to document and to systematize our thoughts. Beyond disguising our lack of control of reality as "intentional frameworks," writing actually helps us build the world as we want it to be. Which is also why I started to distance myself from strict academic writing. I began to collect too many memories of academics saying that they would go back to their old texts and be surprised by what they wrote, because they didn't have any of the knowledge that the text was sustaining. They would have their egos enlarged by reading this past work and would also feel comfortable with saying that those texts didn't hold truth to them anymore. I think everyone has the absolute right of changing their minds, that's not my point here. My point is that these academics were "making arguments" as if they were holding up truths when they were actually only sustaining opinions. Again, the disguise that writing can do. 

As I wrote my dissertation, I came to the problem of wanting to write what I know is true and real, and I was judged then as being naïve. The thing is that there is a way of writing, like there is a way of doing everything else in life, that is one that accesses our depth of knowledge. This depth of knowledge will continue to change, evolve if you wish, be transformed by circumstances even, but it will never stop being true. Through writing we can access that truth. That's what I'm doing here, and I believe that's what poets do to.