09 July 2010

The Private Act of Writing

For any reader who has been following one or more of my blogs, you may be wondering why your "follower" picture has been absent from the right hand columns in recent weeks. I had been finding it difficult to keep my own voice while writing. By this, I mean that your presence as a possible reader of my words was intruding on my often daily decisions about what and how to write.

Or course, I am certainly not blaming you for my own difficulty to concentrate on the genuineness of my writings.

I try not to think about potential readers of my words. My main writing projects have usually been of the private, diary variety, put away from prying eyes in smallish boxes on top of my old oak wardrobe. The contents of those boxes are certainly not meant for publication, at least not for two hundred years or more.

Even in my diaries, do I write with my own voice? What is your own voice and how is it expressed in your online life? If you write fiction, and perhaps even if you are a very famous writer of fiction, how much of the real you is expressed in your words? How much of me is here in this blog, as a writer mainly of non-fiction prose?

In previous blog posts, I have written that I do not really see myself as a poet. Poetry was a brief, fleeting career in the romantic fantasy of my younger years. Was that the real me back then?

The private me is the one within my mind, who struggles to make sense of the world and my experiences in it. The public me is not the me I know. It is the one inhabited by you, as the reader of these words. The public space we share consists of our interactions, communications and our exchange of meanings and understandings.

Good writing - and by that I mean writing that will stand the test of time, expressing something of value throughout history, and perhaps even across cultures - will always come from the soul and not from the ego.

By defining the soul as the private you in your own mind, and the ego as the public you as you hope others will perceive it, which of these versions of you is more real, more worthy, and more true?

When I read the words of others, I seek to understand something about myself, about my soul and its place in the universe - through the soul of another. Perhaps you do, too:

Alone, With Words by Jed Perl in The New Republic

In my own writing, especially in the journal I write just for myself - it will remain private, at least for now, as it will have a similar status to my diaries for most of the next two decades - I try to come to terms with the many challenges of life's journey, the paradoxes, and especially my many encounters with humanity's various searches for meaning and understanding.

True art reveals the beauty of other souls, individually or in combination, whether through words, pictures, something in three dimensions, in music or in a multitude of combined formats. Sometimes it is to be cherished privately. Sometimes it needs to be shared.

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