Thursday, September 26, 2013

My writing (blog four)

I am skeptical of my ability to trace my writing's development. I am initially inclined to think I have always been an almost exclusively non-fiction reader and writer, whose regard for fiction has always been tied to the extent that a work dealt with non-fiction in a serious way, while simultaneously maintaining that such a thing as "non-fiction" does not exist -- it's all fictionalized representations of a subjective and intangible, so-called reality. But I can't have always been this boring.

When I was young I would draw on anything with a blank margin, particularly when bored. This led to church programs covered in grotesque, distorted figures and other strange drawings. Later my mom would inform me I was forbidden from drawing pictures on church programs. I was left with words, which were supposed to limit my thoughts to reflection on church subjects. For the most part, my writings began as incoherent non-religious thoughts, words heard I didn't understand, and flat observations about the people around me. When finally I turned to church subjects years later, what resulted escaped mere 'reflection.' I would document paradoxes in lessons, unanswered questions, and the vague platitude-swapping that was so often passed off as discussion. I would later discover that developing these ideas into a stand-alone work was called "essay."

I was raised in a literary environment -- my home, that is. My mother, a single parent, public school teacher with a Master's in Linguistics, placed the arts above almost anything else in my formative years. The author whose work introduced me to the essay form was Mark Twain. I don't remember a lot of the first essays I read, but I do remember -- strange as it may be -- the feeling of not understanding. I remember reading pages filled with references to whom and/or which I was in the dark. I remember thinking that it seemed impossible to read and understand all of what was required to understand what Twain was saying. Looking bad, this seems somewhat pathetic; he was (and remains) one of the most profound and accessible writers of American history. As a early teen, however, I simply didn't have the background -- yet. This, in a sense, informs the ways I approach a student's non-undesrtanding, misunderstanding, etc. It's not as if they don't understand, and that's that -- it's that they don't understand yet. As regards cultural capital, we are all born tabula rasa.

My writing developing alongside my reading over the years -- and, strangely, this happened mostly outside of school. I have always found it difficult to be as engaged with required reading as I am with my own intellectual pursuits. There is an element of personal interest at play, but there's also some psychological aspect to my aversion to assigned reading. Further, for me, writing has always been an extension of reading, perhaps with the addition of observing the world around me. And when I say writing, sadly, I refer almost entirely to essay writing -- which I love nothing more than to create myself after absorbing the work of others.


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