On Writing

The written word is my favorite language.  It can be so complexly expressive without being restricted by any anxieties about verbal communication.  I am amazed that such minimalistic strokes as those that form alphabets can convey entire landscapes and thoughtscapes.   Writing can transcend space and time.  It also creates a buffer from the interpersonal pitfalls of face-to-face communication.  When I write, I don’t have to respond in a timely manner, and often it does take time to fully translate the swirling mass of thoughts into spoken words.  I can relax any worries about body language or eye contact.  I don’t have to regulate tone or volume.  This is not to say that I don’t enjoy speaking with others, and conversing is more vibrantly interactive, but when it comes time to clearly articulate my thoughts, writing captures a depth that my speech can’t quite get to.

I don’t remember learning to write or read.  I remember journals and trips to the library to check out towering stacks of books that were usually above my grade level.  I remember studying grammar and learning how to research and write a paper, tasks that I took to with minimal prodding.  I can only assume it was my voracious reading that helped me learn some of the intricacies of words, written and spoken.  Sadly, somewhere in college, reading fell by the wayside, and now it’s a rarity for me to take the time to read a novel.  Though what I read is usually non-fiction and for a project or a class, it is still often “reading for fun.”

I am writing more than ever now.  Most notably, my thesis.  Writing it is simultaneously draining and fulfilling, an act of creativity that requires intense discipline.  This blog is a bit of a break from that, a chance to write on a different topic.  I can let my brain rest from one thing while still keeping it active.  When I decided to major in anthropology, I didn’t realise that so much of the discipline involved writing.  I quickly realized that my anthropology classes demanded more writing than the classes I took in other departments.  And I love it.  I love that I get to be a writer.  I love that my thesis – and even this blog – are just steps in a career that will hopefully involve a lot more writing.  Ethnography might not be creative writing in the strictest definition, but it is absolutely a creative process, one where I can speak my native language through the written word.

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