this piece appeared on facebook, in 2012. 4 years has changed me much, but I liked what I said here, and since I’m struggling to put together a blog, this will do for now
Whenever I felt like I wanted to talk about something, I used to just go online, click on the [posting] button, and just type away. Writing was spontaneous, always something I could do in one go without any revision. I taught myself how to think with the flow of words that come out from my typing fingers; and when I couldn’t I simply stopped, and threw everything away. My facebook notes, and then my WordPress and Blogspot all used to have a ton of blank saved drafts: Nothing written but perhaps the title and date and a maximum of 2 opening words for each of these blank, unstated state of mind.
In many ways, writing was a continuation of my doodling. Even though I have a pathetic 1 ‘hoa tay’ (mom told us that people with more are usually more artistic, more resourceful andwhat not) compared to the 10 on my brother’s, I was always the one buying colored pens and markers, the one making all the weird lines and curves on our walls. My ‘art’, nothing more than a past-time, used to be full of cartoon images and stylized letters, tend to have this crazy sense of interconnection between ideas. I once put everything I craved for that moment onto a piece of paper, a mess of chaotic things bursting out on white and black and put it on Facebook and got 30 likes afterwards. Slowly I formed the impression that creativity was never about creating entirely new things, but instead bringing about new combinations of old things, things trapped in our consciousness and invoked by our private minds. I stopped doodling about the same time I got into a relationship, and I guess my being pseudo-intellectual kinda forced me to switch to reading a lot more. With more reading comes more writing, from non-fiction, argumentative pieces, my fingers began to direct their attention at the more elusive, charming, powerful realms of literature. Well, not literature, but perhaps some form of storytelling- you get my drift. That was when I started to realize my writing is but a continuation of my visual arts, where images are created from words, sounds, punctuation marks, and the emotions behind. I am only using a new medium, and (perhaps) a wealthier diversity of resources and ideas.
But here is the risk: My ‘drawing’ was too creative. In the bad sense. Because I let ideas go unchecked, they stray far from the intended effects. I used to just draw whatever, whenever I felt like drawing; now I embrace freewriting, writing without any planning or preparation. Back in primary school, when it was time for our after-lunch nap, I used to lay there, pretending to sleep, and played my little mind game. I would think of an image, like a car, and then pick a part of it – like the circular wheel on that car, and then think of something new with that circular shape and create a new image, and the process goes on. I think my predilection to digress began there – perhaps my terrible attention span too. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawing the parallel between my drawing and writing as well. Perhaps.
I started a new kind of writing recently. Well, not entirely new, nothing creative is entirely new- I still use some freewriting for this thing; but the entire process goes way beyond that. Write something, cut them short, read them again and criticize, cut them short, make the ideas coherent and relevant, write again, add in this portion, throw away that portion, rewrite that portion, give to other people for peer-reading, cut them short, write something. I don’t know if this will ever end, but I know that when a freewritten piece is done I tend to let go of anything that follows. Hemmingway said “Write drunk, edit sober.”- I never had any liquor, but I guess I’m never sane. I’m forever torn between the logical simplicity in the non-fiction argumentative writing and the irrational outbursts in the more creative one, and in that sense I think I don’t have writing common sense. There were some days when I woke up from a short nap feeling terrible about what I had created the few hours prior, fearing people would not like it, fearing people would never understand me. I hate editing, I hate the new part in my writing where I have to think of how the others would think and try to modify mine.For the first time in my life the kind of things I can write are limited to me. Materials from my life, my thoughts, my experiences, my emotions. I’m scared shitless.
Being judged. I read somewhere that writers also struggle with this problem, hiding their own identity hidden in characters and thoughts in novels from the readers; of course theirs is a much harder struggle given the diversity of beliefs our Age of Information has thrown at us. But mine is grueling, because here I have no character to hide myself in, no writing skill (that comes with years and years of writing), and, more importantly, little self-awareness. If the other people wrote naturally from their personal reflections, I write, digging for the first time into fragments of my past, hoping to connect them all together into a coherent piece – not necessarily a big piece, but a sensible, readable one. What used to be only for my own entertainment will now be presented to the all the others. What I used to unconsciously assimilate with my current actions will now be recognised by my mind, however terrible it was. Before any external judgment, I am judged by my own self-conscience, the superego that more often than not contradicts with the ego and the id.
But I write anyway, because for a while now I have realized the process is also as important as the objective. Getting somewhere is good, but getting there without feeling challenged can be invite later regret. I write because somewhere in between that moment of despair upon recognizing my own incompetence and that spark of encouragement from the people whom I entrust my writing with is a steady accumulation of revelations.
I write, because writing will teach me fear and courage.