It seems a paradox. Like an attempt to sound profound and insightful in some esoteric way, claiming a poet’s rights as a wall against criticism. Though I mean to use the words as all written words were once intended to be used: literally.
Writing is something nearly everyone must do, many love to do and few are good at doing. The idea of committing words to paper, making thoughts tangible, is enticing. To ‘simply’ place one’s ‘brilliant’ ideas on paper for everyone to ‘enjoy’ sounds attractive. It’s also the leading cause of vampire novels.
Conversely, the realization that those you would have read your works might not enjoy them as much as you would like or (heavens forbid) not even like at all is the leading cause of writer’s block. Every person who styles him or herself a writer must at times struggle with the frustrating juxtaposition of being able to bore friends and family (and anyone else) to death with endless soliloquies on ‘the upcoming book’ and the immediate regression to a toddler’s vocabulary as soon as you attempt to actually write.
This is what I mean by writing without words. You know the story, the plot, the hook and hang-ups. You’re familiar with the characters; you know their faces, their pasts and their futures. All of this is readily available to you. All but the actual words. Distracted by Facebook, 9gag and Youtube, you flee to the safety and demand for discipline of pen and paper, only to return to the lure of internet after a few hours, with nothing to show for your efforts but a slightly more chewed on pen and doodles that remind you why you’re not a painter. And the more time you sink into trying to write a bestseller, the more you’re frustrated and the more you feel you need to produce the next time. You’re writing, you’re making the attempt, you’re pursuing your passion, but you have no real results.
You have no words.
However clear this may come across, however this might or might not be familiar to you, this is how I often feel when trying to write. I no longer live in the delusion that if I would gift the world with my words I would be raised up on a shining pedestal of literary accolades. And even though I hope that whenever I manage to write a book it will generate a more positive than negative response from the world at large, I always try to write to satisfy the world inside my mind, first and foremost. I just want to write. Yet, as ever, this art requires the application of words, which in turn demands that the right words be available.
So I decided to do exactly that. When learning a new language, you need to practice and with practice you develop a vocabulary and learn the intricacies of that language. Immerse yourself in the culture of the language and before you know it you’re bandying about puns and idioms, making bad jokes and using wise sayings. Before you know it, you’re comfortable.
I want to be comfortable. Better yet, I need to be comfortable to write. And thus I need to practice. I need to practice the language of written words. I will immerse myself in the culture of writing. I will take up residence in a single bedroom apartment in the village of Blog, working diligently and saving up to afford that spacious loft in the city of Book.
Alternating with Gry Ulstein and Daphné Dupont-Nivet I will write a tri-weekly piece on life, the universe and everything. We have taken a vow to support each other and hold each other accountable for our writing and before you know it, we’ll be fluent.