Thursday September 3rd
My relationship with Writing
Here is a piece I wrote
- I wrote this as part of my training as a Writing consultant. Please enjoy.
- Writing for me spawned from punishment. It was an admonishment. As a child growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, my parents were quite strict. One of their requirements was that if I had committed a wrong act, that I should write a 500 word essay that allowed me introspection to discover why what I had done was wrong. In this sense, writing for me was very mechanical. It was, after all, taught as part of the post-colonial legacy of the British, who invaded our country in the 1600s, and left after our independence in 1962. What I mean in actuality by the word “left” is that their physical presence was gone; the effects of colonialism, I would argue, exist even today in my country of birth. Just like our schooling, writing was very structured and was learned by repetition, not by emotion. I have always marvelled at the conversationalist writing of the Americans, and how you could feel the emotions and whimsy in their writing. This is not the case with many post-colonialist countries like ours. Our writing is verbose, floral, and sometimes inscrutable to parse. We elongate our sentences. Our writing is filled with allegory, with words that have gradations of meanings that to us, are significant. Some have said that we take too long to make a point. Our books require small fonts, but are poetic in their own way.
- In spite of all of these mechanisms, I grappled with writing in high school. The reason for my struggle was primarily because I was filtered into the science track. Our educational system demanded that everyone learn a science (and even if you pursued Literature and Economics you would still have to enroll at some point in Integrated Sciences). In my academic placement, I was told that the subjects I could pursue were Physics, Mathematics, and Art. Surrounded by fellow engineering students, this was not a problem. However, my situation became problematic when a budding journalist asked our class if there was a person who was a fast typist. Since I grew up with a computer and spent hours with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, I volunteered. I happily transcribed the budding journalist’s words into text as she mouthed them to me. Finally, she said the word “juxtaposed”. I asked her to repeat the word. I didn’t know it. Crudely, she asked if I was a science major. When I admitted that I was, she looked at me as if to say “that explains everything”. I have never forgotten that moment. Though it was cruel, it was pivotal in determining to me that there was an entire world that I knew little about. I wanted to find out more.
- Therefore, I left high school to pursue Film at a Liberal Arts college for my Undergraduate Study. Studying this degree gave me the opportunity to not only widen my perspective, and to read the work of screenwriters and of playwrights who wrote quite differently than work I had seen in high school, but it allowed me to see how writing could be loose and creative. Today, writing for me is more like painting in oils. As the reading mentioned, I am more of a planner. I diagram several ideas on sticky notes, and move them around, as though I were moving a brush around a canvas. It is very different from the writing I knew growing up, which entailed always starting with a quote, thinking about a main idea, sub ideas, and a conclusion. Filmmaker Godard said it best when he said that a film has a beginning, middle and an end, but not necessarily in that order. Writing as a process is very iterative for me, and it takes time. I usually can only hold one essay or piece in my head at one time, and it consumes me. As I read or consume other media, I am constantly trying to make connections between ideas that might be relevant to my ideas. I juggle ideas back and forth, and try to fit them together like I am molding clay. Writing is very therapeutic for me. It allows me to process ideas in my head in a concrete way. Writing is also very emotional for me; I have found myself crying while writing, or procrastinating when I do not feel moved to write. This is something that I have to work on as a graduate student; to be more disciplined and less productive only when moved to do so. I am perpetually trying to find a balance between writing as a mechanical process and that where I can insert myself and my ideas.
And that’s it
Written on September 3, 2020