Picking Up the Pen…

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Why do I write? Why the resort to the pen? Expression, escapism, the need to feel productive, to merge the airiness of imagination with the earthiness of ink and paper, but my reasons have also changed with time. I was made acutely aware of this when reading my very first diary entry, dated December 1999 (let me defend myself in advance by stating that I was 14 ).I opened with the words “welcome people of the future”(I was also proudly nerdy)…I will not disclose the full contents of this first entry to save myself the embarrassment….but the overarching theme was an introduction of myself and my surroundings, documentation to be preserved for the future, something along the lines of a time capsule. The tone was an attempt to be impersonal, objective, a historian of sorts observing the flux of the world. “The world right now is in a stage of technological revolution” I wrote. I listed items “electrical fans”, “computers”, “wrist-watches”. I draw an elegant floral embellishment along the margins. Calm, cool and collected. I was trying to write to an audience, not self. However my efforts proved in vain… the first entry was an anomaly…my writing soon became infused with teenage politics, and rants, personal triumphs and dismay. Exclamation marks abounded. Underlined, capitalized words sprouted everywhere. Red ink came out, and pink, and silver. Words were blacked out with decisiveness, sometimes whole pages torn out in an attempt to discount the past and in a yearning to move forward unhindered. Plans were plotted, apologies to self were made, confessions were worded. Molehills became mountains, which shrunk into molehills again as perspective was gradually regained. There was absurdity and hilarity and silliness, the element of the ridiculous was dominant, but there was also something very redemptive in that brand of writing. An unburdening of thoughts. I also tended to gravitate towards writers with a fearless approach to the personal, Sylvia Plath, Osamu Dazai, Anne Sexton. I still keep a diary today but the tone is decidedly different, still personal, but not as zealous, perhaps a few steps closer to the objective historian but still ultimately subjective, as a diary is ultimately meant to be. Re-reading my old diary has made me aware of how the impulses to write, or draw, or creatively express in any other way, can be so varied. There are many reasons to pick up a pen, or a camera, or an instrument or a paintbrush, and they change by the days, and hours, and minutes. This is what can make art so unpredictable at times, but also so exciting and surprising. And yet there is also great comfort in the routine of it, in its rituals, I love stationary to this day because I enjoy the physical feel of writing as much as its less tangible rewards. So why do I pick up a pen? The reasons are many and complex I suppose, but I guess when I get old and grumpy it’ll give me something to do 😉

4 responses »

  1. Oh – how time passes and how our memories warp the way we believe events had happened!

    That’s what diaries are for – to remind us of our ridiculous, silly, absolutely hilarious aspects of our personalities and of the things we thought we knew.

    I too – like you Quil4 – would write and attempt to write to an audience. Oddly enough to this day, I think I still do in all my journaling to some degree. It helps me focus on where my attention is at in the present moment – if I had to share this moment with someone else, what would I tell them?

    The line “The world right now is in a stage of technological revolution” totally cracks me up every time I read it! Sooo good. When I was younger I felt that I needed to be able to make grandiose sweeping statements that somehow held some truth or revelation about our time! hahahahahaha! – I totally felt your point of view.

    But now – as a cynical adult – I wish I had some of that confidence back – to feel with certainty. But maybe that’s one of the lovely things about looking back through these diaries and journals -not only to remember the things we once knew and believed in – but to remember to believe in them again.

    • I do wish I had some of that bravado back as well, that idealism…and there is sometimes nothing as empowering as a ridiculously grandiose statement..hahaha..yay for journaling!

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