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Monday, August 11, 2014

Writing: Want or Need?



School has started a few days ago, right after enrollment.

If you have any idea how horrible UP enrollment is... You don't. Try it. I was actually one of the lucky ones because I finished before school even started. In UP culture, it's normal to start your school year without having finished your enrollment process.

Anyways, what's done is done, and all 18 units have been enrolled. Thank God.

(Also, a friend of mine who was unfamiliar with the UP system commented on the fact that 18 units was too few. I was thinking about it, and no, UP isn't chill. It's just different, I guess. The same way in which ADMU and DLSU will never have the same teaching style.)

I have a feeling that this'll be an interesting sem. This school year, I'm determined to pull my grades up because I was too lax during my first year. (I maximized and sometimes even exceeded all my allowable cuts. I'm not proud of it.)

For this semester, I got Psych 101 and PolSci 14. Both teachers look awesome, and to be honest, since I never really felt like I was studying during my first year (plus that four-month long break. ugh), I'm really looking forward to studying. Another heavy subject is Philo 12. I am not looking forward to that. This coming Tuesday will decide whether or not I'll push through with the subject.

Besides those, a subject I'm really excited about is CW 10 (Creative Writing for Beginners) because if it isn't obvious, I write. Haha.

My teacher is Ma'am Pasion-Flores and I have to admit the class's first meeting was great. She had this whole no-bullshit attitude but was strict and friendly at the same time. She had this smile on the entire time, but you didn't really know (and I still don't) if it was a happy smile or a threatening one. So complex. I love it.

Oh right. She's a lawyer and a writer at the same time. How awesome is that? It's my current (unreachable) dream career path and she's just there - showing me that it's possible. Gah. The class was kinda intimidating too because it felt like everyone was such a good writer.

More on that next time. What I wanted to write about today was about one of Ma'am's assigned readings: Letter to a Young Poet I by RM Rilke.

For some reason, I got curious and read it first. Now here I am - sitting; writing. You've got to admit the letter did its job well.


Basically, it's a response letter from the author. Someone sent in his poem to be judged by others, in a way that so obviously showed that he was sending it to multiple addressees. (implied)

You have to read the text for you to know more.

So there I was, reading and marveling at the way these words were organized. I love it so when an author can make a prose seem so... poetic. There was art in her words - disguised as a formal letter. How fucking awesome is that?

She was saying that you shouldn't write for others; you should write for yourself.

At that point, even though I was moved by her elegant words, I felt a small part of myself that wanted to defend itself.

After all, if you write something, more often than not, it's meant to be read. What was the point then - of words and meanings and correlation if you didn't have anybody to talk to? We all know that we don't really form complete sentences in our brain when we think. We form movement and pictures and short words that become ideas, memories, emotions, and ultimately, our selves.

Words are used for communication, and emotions produce art. By some great force in the universe, someone decided that they'd go well together. That someone has gifted us not only prose and poetry, but empathy and a movement.

Is it not amazing - that tiny little symbols group together and make something inside us move? (Whether that something is your brain or your heart, only you can tell.) How can something so stagnant have the power to overwhelm us?

And so I believe that the moment that your pen touches the paper, or when your fingers touch that keyboard, you, dear writer, seek not only to express and be understood, but also to move.

After all that I've said, I still couldn't disagree with her completely. Of course it was absurd, that you write only to fulfill others' need and not your own - when you are the one spending time and pouring effort into this work.

Because writers seek to move - whether through laughter or tears, through excitement or frustration - it is inevitable for us to completely ignore the voice that seeks an audience.

And for this, she is all the more correct. We seek to move, but first we have to make ourselves feel. Words are not mechanical to literary enthusiasts the way that formulas are to mathematicians. Each word, when written and spoken, would mean something completely different.

It is extremely stupid, for lack of a better word, to expect other people to see value in something in which you clearly hold inferior.

This much I understand, and while I do not find this statement to be in error, I still occasionally find myself craving other people's positive opinion. I hope that my own judgement is right - that whatever I produced isn't horrible, or even actually good.

It is of course, my intention that first and foremost I do it for expression and not for impression. And yet at times, I end up writing something that's more than just my thoughts - something that more than others, I am proud of, and seeks to be read. I hope during those times that other people will see its value the way that I did.

The more that I thought about it, the more that I ended up hating my own work - thinking myself too haughty to have written something so simple. It wasn't something I wanted to do, but I wanted to think outside my own bias for my work, and doing that made me against it.

There's nothing more terrible for a writer, than to hate your own work.

At this point I continued reading the text. And then I saw:

"This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write?"
To that question I did not lack an answer. I may not be someone who writes every second of the day, nor even every day of every week. I might not read all the time during my free hours, but I could not survive if I would be forbidden to write.

I always thought that writing and reading were luxuries to me. They were something that occupied my time but did not fill it. Now I realize, that maybe in this sense quality is not equal to quantity.

Maybe my need for literature could be kept at bay, but it would be a need all the same.

I remember all those nights when I'd lay in bed, ready to sleep - around two or three a.m. if I'm correct. My eyes could not tolerate another waking hour, and yet my brain was at work (damn you Brain.) and all of a sudden the words I was thinking became paragraphs, and these paragraphs made sense together. They made me realize that there was some thought I needed to voice out, something that if not let out would eat me inside.

It was a primal need. I eventually succumbed to that. I'd write in the middle of the night with my eyes half-closed and my brain half-working - clinging on to those words that I managed to remember. During those moments I did not care if I was grammatical or not. One thing I was sure of then and am right now:

I need to write.




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