Friday, April 17, 2015

On Writing


I'm sure anyone who reads this with anything resembling regularity will see that I write in these frenzied bursts. I don't consider myself an especially competent or accomplished writer. I know that my grammar and syntax are terrible, and my vocabulary leaves a lot to be desired (I know the words, but don't use them if I have a more common word at my disposal) and that if it isn't terrible poetry, or a worse short story, I'm likely ranting without spellcheck or citing sources, because I've always saved those for the classroom.

Writing was always my secondary art of choice, behind music (and light years ahead of art).

The thing is, I don't feel comfortable with free form or creative writing. I spent 5 years of science education getting it drilled into my head that I didn't have to use adjectives, or the active voice. My writing needed to be clear, concise, and show only relevant information and descriptors. Technical science writing is much different from creative or journalistic writing. It is mostly bare bones technical jargon, with the occasional foray into fun in your conclusions sections. The best part? I excelled at that. I enjoyed reading the research I pulled from for citations in my thesis. I enjoyed writing my thesis. I enjoy jargon-heavy, technical writing (at least when I understand the jargon).

For me, creative writing was always an act of boredom, or the result of my extreme lack of talent in the visual arts. If I get an awesome idea in my head, I know I can't draw it, or animate it, so I write it. At one point, I felt I was losing touch with my ability to visualize and then verbally translate, even in a very basic form, and I even thought that technical writing had, in some way, damaged more more creative writing ability.

Now I see that this was simply not the case.

If the devil is in the details, then creative writing with a technical writing background is hell. If a detail seems necessary for the reader to understand the scene you're writing, you suddenly write about every waving blade of grass as if you were describing your new protocol or extrapolating on the data you collected. If you integrate the attention to detail and informative nature of technical writing with your more creative side, you can end up with the best of both worlds.

My writing will never be refined. I likely won't be publishing any best sellers or compiling great works of poetry, and that's okay with me. I enjoy it. I find it can be, at various times fun, cathartic, or a decent wall on which I can bounce my thoughts on various issues until I reach a conclusion. Sometimes, after finishing up a rant or poem, I find that I feel the opposite of what I had just written... what I had, minutes before, felt deeply assured of. That, to me, is part of the beauty of writing. It lets you step outside of yourself for a moment and examine your ideas as an outsider. You can see flaws in your perspective, flaws in your arguments, strengths in things you hadn't considered. Writing reveals just so much about yourself. The way you write is a reflection of you, whether it be cynical dialogue, steamy erotica, or even just a painstakingly detailed description of a landscape. What you read, and what you write are two of the greatest ways to know yourself, and to be known by other people, and it can reach so many people, on so many different levels. I like that. I like that a poem I write about one topic can be seen by a reader as being about something completely different. I like seeing how personal experience shapes our perceptions, especially in the world of poetry, where meanings are so typically obscured. I'm pretty sure that's why I feel in love with writing poetry, despite always having disliked reading it... I can write what I feel, and know what I mean, and leave it out there for others, and it will always be more of  a reflection of the reader than of myself.

Writing, especially poetry, is a way for me to bleed my thoughts and feelings out in ink instead of blood. I use writing a parts therapist, friend, confidant, critic, and opposition. I need to various nature of my writing in order to keep myself focused on topics, on ideas, on things of importance. Sometimes I write for fun, sometimes for obligation, sometimes to stay safe, and sometimes just to put something out there to the world... but there is always one constant: I'm never writing just for me.

So, to my fellow writers of varying degrees of passion, involvement, and success, I applaud you. Carry on, share with the world, and PLEASE let me know if you want to collaborate. I'm a sucker for collaboration.

More importantly, to the reader: you're half the reason writers can continue to exist, and why there are blogs and novels and poetry books. Read what we write, share what you like, be critical (but constructive!) of the things writers put out there, so that they know they're reaching somebody. 

Anyway, this is a rant on writing, written at 6-ish in the morning, because I feel victim to the classic curse of writers' block. When all else fails, and you have nothing to write about, write anyway.