Friday, December 17, 2010

On the worth of writing (and writers?)

Somewhere between a 10 page paper on postcolonialism, an 18 page paper on coalition governments, and a 20 page paper on Shakespeare, a thought presented itself quite forcibly: writing to any real extent truly does require believing that whatever we're writing about is worth it. Worth my time writing it, worth someone else's time to read it. Ideally, it'll make a statement- maybe even make a bit of a difference, if I'm lucky.


It's something I'm reminded of when I come across something fantastic, something so in-tune that I have to actually pause mid-page to appreciate what the author has just accomplished. It has to be more than eloquence or wit, more than a finely crafted phrase or sentence. It has to truly say something. I've got to read it, shake my head in wonderment, read it again, and sink into a moment of thought and/or marveling.


As an avid reader, this is my inspiration, validation for taking the time out of a busy schedule to read. As someone with an interest in writing (not to fancy myself a "writer" - is there a certain authority attached to that word now, or not so much anymore?), it's still inspiring, but also terribly disconcerting. How does one attain such power through the written word? Amazing.


Not the first time it's struck me that it must take some amount of self-confidence to write for serious publishing, at least in my mind. To think that you have something worth saying, something worth proclaiming to others "Hey, you have busy lives, but really you ought to stop and listen to what I have to tell you. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about; you'll like it." The potential self-involvement that accompanies writing if one has any hopes for an audience. ...On the other hand, it still seems as though some things must be written, must be said, even if we don't feel quite up to the task. 


Something I mulled over while sitting on a runway in Dakar this past summer, recalling conversations with young carvers and painters in the Accra crafts-market the day before. I don't consider myself quite worthy enough to tell their stories, but someone ought to, no? ...And if those who felt themselves the true authority were the only ones to ever write... why, that'd be a lot of egotistic and didactic literature, now wouldn't it? Many stories that would be left untold, and the world deserves to hear them, just as they deserve to be told and heard. Must be told and heard, perhaps.


...Babbling. Back to work.

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