Articulate

I’d forgotten the joy I used to find in writing. Not joy, perhaps, too visceral, but the quiet love for crafting something. I don’t expect that I’m a good writer and nor really is that why I do (or have done) it; I don’t even consider myself a writer – which is silly when you think this blog, in its various forms, has been Something I Do for nearly six years now. But I had nothing to say for a while recently because I didn’t know what I wanted to write about, not because I couldn’t have written about it if I had thought of an ‘it’.

I just went linkhopping, however, and found in various places some examples of really good writing – descriptive, witty, beautiful. Blogs that found the beautiful in the ordinary, the sad in the mundane, and even some that made real and enjoyable to me something that in real life I would never consider doing. I’m afraid I’m too old and tired now for all this incestuous, back-handedly self-aggrandising link-spewing, the better to get more hits. Obviously if I was going to pick up a thread or an argument from a blog, or draw heavily upon a piece of writing for inspiration, of course I’d link to it.

I remembered the pleasure of tasting words in my mouth and taking care to construct images carefully. I was going to talk about painting with words but it’s more than that. It’s more than just using words to reconstruct the world and convey it to others because there are so many dimensions to cover, all the ways in which we take information in, all the different ways we understand it – intellectually, emotionally, viscerally – and the weight we each personally put on all of those things. Writing done well is to play with perception in a way no other medium does, which is not to say that making art or music are any less multifaceted or complex, merely that these are different approaches to the same problem. And somehow, despite all the novels I read and the people I talk to, I’d forgotten that. It’s trite to say that words have power, but I will say it, because I have remembered that being allowed to play with them in a space like this is an opportunity like nothing else. It’s as if someone gave you the keys to Picasso’s studio, or whipped a Stradivarius out of their car boot. I’d forgotten, I suppose, that words are there are much to be enjoyed and crafted with as they are to record experience.

Which is as well, because if I was to simply record experiences at this point you’d get a smattering of silly drunk anecdotes, an overwhelming sense of shame with a fair helping of self-pity, some ranting about fairly common and tedious experiences, some raving about take-aways, whisky and recent television, an account of my work at the Chaplaincy and an awful lot of blather about quality control of protein formation and folding in and around the endoplasmic reticulum, which I personally am really enjoying but I can completely understand if that’s not what you come to read when you visit my blog.

This isn’t a promise that my writing will get better, or be good, or enjoyable, or any of those things. I’m not saying I’m going to write more often. This might not be much more than a place-holder. To be honest, dear reader, this post has almost nothing to do with you at all. I like writing. I now remember why. This might mean I post more often. But really I don’t suppose either of us minds particularly whether I do or not, and that’s not why I’m here.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Articulate

  1. It’s your blog, write about whatever you like; especially if you enjoy writing. You never know, some people might find it quite interesting to hear about quality control of protein formation and folding in and around the endoplasmic reticulum (although you might have to explain quite what that means…).

  2. Flix

    I used to like writing.

    Now I can’t construct a sentence without double-thinking everything.

  3. I like writing an awful lot, too. I think a problem that especially scientists and engineers get is that it’s really easy to let your writing muscles atrophy. I know I’m a pretty unusual scientist because I did a pretty wordy A Level (Classical Civilisations) and it was great to spend a while thinking about drama and character, and language.

    I like to think that writing is more like sculpture than painting; you’re taking the raw material of thought and feeling and forcing it into a shape, chipping away at it until it’s something more than merely the stuff it’s made of.

    Also, as a form I’m coming to really appreciate the graphic novel; done well it has all the power of art and writing, and it’s fantastic to read something by someone like Neil Gaiman because he is so very obviously in love with language itself.

    I also wanted to say that I find words themselves just fascinating; I really love etymology. The way you can reach down into a word and find that it has roots that stretch backwards, or an unexpected history. I like that an awful lot of words are actually metaphors; for instance the word “language” itself comes from the Latin “lingua”, which literally means “tongue”. Compare with the pasta “linguine” which is Italian for “little tongues”. I think that’s marvellous. And words most certainly do have power; I think I’ve just made myself hungry.

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