As I round up my doctoral programme I have found myself doing more thinking about writing than writing (creatively) itself. Beside the occasional spurts of a poem or a story idea, I haven’t done much especially since the first quarter of the year. Although I haven’t written much this year, I’ve been fortunate to have some work published. You can see some of them here. I am looking forward to having more time to read for curiosity and to write more creatively. So here are some thoughts that dance around my mind:
I should be writing.
I don’t always remember this desire being there although I always lit up when I had to write as a child. It is less a nag and more a thoughtful unbudging reminder, but it’s fascinating that I could go months without any serious writing and it still is there.
Writing in Igbo.
I understand Igbo fluently and my writing is very good but my speaking is rusty compared to when I was a toddler growing up with my grandmother. Lately I have been speaking more with my parents and to myself. I recently started journaling in Igbo and have a few poems in Igbo. I sometimes think about the future of our native languages since English is the language of institutions. Considering that languages constantly evolve and diverge from root languages, will we be left with hybrids like engiligbo? I found this related post interesting.
Effort, flow and time
Thoughts of being able to translate effort to output and cash flow become less viable at least in the short term especially when a big part of writing for me is imagination and iteration. Some things have to hibernate for weeks if not years, and while my job is to be consistent, I need not force it to be ready before it is. There’s always that dance between a sense of flow and effort and so one has to give up that industrial idea of time, time as a linear production tool.
The interface between work and self
I am fascinated by where my writing takes me, especially when I am writing a story. I go to a place that is not real but I see clearly and sometimes I feel clearly. It is delightful and intimate. Sometimes when I write I am aware that I am on a knife’s edge, a place I’d describe as delicately & deliciously dangerous.
Also I have noticed that the type of work that calls me is different at different times. There are times where I am practically spurting more ideas than I can keep up with. In more equanimous times in my life I may not have the raw ideation as much but I will have the objectivity and calmness to edit, organize and develop.
Immature versus mature work
This question started from a different place where I wondered if there is such a thing as healthy writing. I know that writing is psychosomatic. It can cut you, make you weak, make you flinch, burn. And with that can it heal? Or does it heal by cutting? Can it nurture? Should it? What does it look like?
On thinking of this my hypothesis became that maybe the difference is between work that is immature/self-centered in an unreflective way, and work that is mature. Just as the individual and collective matures – from say anger/rebellion to a stance of holding/healing while still confronting I think it is possible for the art(ist) to mature. In this case the work may still be raw, may still cut, may not expressly heal but you are able to write from a stance where your story becomes more focused because you are clearer about what is at stake and have dealt with your own baggage or at least transformed it.
Grandeur and art
We regard artists with a certain grandeur. We ascribe more moral and cultural responsibility to the writer than say the plumber. Maybe there is a reason for this and maybe the writer is a modern day prophet. My experiences with being read more this year made me think of these ideas a bit more. Do I really want a lot of people to read me? Maybe so, but I realized that this could only ever be a superficial reason behind the impulse to write. Also, if I ever got to such a place I would need to consciously engage. I experience it as quite overwhelming and unnerving. So while the idea is wonderful and something to be grateful for I realize that it could be a distraction as there would be more pressure and projections onto you. This made me think that I will/should only ever truly write for who I am already writing for – myself and for one other witness.
Writing gives me the chance to do many things – to name, resolve, explore, resist, identify, escape, please myself, stay on the edge between real and imagined/ magical/ psychic so to say. I enjoy writing to experiment – trying to follow the trail of new ideas, trying to experiment with language, with locations, my imagination and my inhabiting of various worlds.
I should be writing
Repetition for effect.
Oh I found this young girl adorable and wise in how she talked about her writing.