Over the last couple of days, I’ve found myself asking why I’ve always written. At the American International School in Bangladesh, I had to write a poem a week. But I think I wrote before then too. On this blog and in my life, I see people compelled to write. And yet at its heart, it’s a weird process.
Thoughts run through our heads every day and most of the time they run unhindered and seemingly disparate. Somehow, the act of putting hand to screen, keyboard or pen consolidates the streams into something more coherent. The characters in each word spell out a slither of our mind and heart. They fall into a public space and sit still in a world where nothing else sits still. They sit so still that, at some point, if you revisit that slither of you it will appear strange and foreign-for you moved on.
As the words form sentences and they form sentiments, if you write like me, you suddenly see the solidification of some otherwise nebulous principle that you hold dear. It takes shape and gains meaning in its clarity and then, if I’ve written my truth, garners significance too. It’s a humbling process to see the inanimate build the unconscious into life in front of me, on which to reflect. It captures past, present and future with an equality which is undeniably powerful.
So I write myself into lines and send them out. It makes me wonder why I don’t just say it. How has environment shaped me so that I write not speak? I don’t think there are truths here I cannot speak. I don’t think there are listeners who would not let me build the mirror of words in front of them too. So herein lies my irony. I think I write to be alone but then also to make connection. Writing takes me inside in a way I can be insular. I don’t have to temper where I go or how I go according to my audience. I can go inside and pick up whatever the hell I like. And then, if the inclination so takes me, I can form it outside in characters that others recognise.
My written self can float anywhere in the world in a way I can’t, seeking out sympathetic ears and similar visions. It allows me to connect with someone wherever they may be in a way that I can’t with people on the street. It turns the meeting process on its head: soul first then the shaking of hands; energy first, material later. But what those characters mean to you may strike a different chord in someone else. They can echo a chapter in your life but fling open a very contrary door for someone else. Writing asks for connection from an audience but with no guarantee that the characters tell the same story to a different mind.
It’s seductive to write only what makes connections, but also false. It drives you to consolidate only those parts which seem acceptable. And the power in writing goes deeper than that. It drives me to excavate. I know when I write deeper because I find myself writing the excuse or the caveat before the passage. There are some passages that flow and some that seem to stutter. I write them all. I write the darkness from the shadows and the light into the sunshine. Not for anyone else but me. Because writing takes me in so that I can make it all, in time, be.
If you choose to read on in time, then welcome, for I am who you see, completing these characters who, in turn, complete me.