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What I think, what I do.

#1: Worth Writing About


- 2011 -

After many hours of musing, thinking and mental tossing and turning, I thought a very simple thought: the best way to kick off the The Column is to write about it, and through it, the wider issue of why people write and why people publish.

I'll preface my column with a few definitions. A writer, for the purpose of this article, is anyone who writes. Writing refers exclusively to the actual act of writing, and does not include the decision to publish this writing; and likewise, publishing refers exclusively to the actual act of publishing a work, not its creation.

Writing, first of all, is a means of understanding. It isn't that by writing about something, you automatically come to understand it, as much as it's that you have to understand something to truly write about it. In other words, you can't write about something if you can't comprehend it. This is very obvious, and yet, to me, it's very confusing.

To clarify, I'm not saying that if a person, naturally blind, were to write about not understanding the experience of sight, he or she would be sidestepping the issue: I'm saying that they would actually be writing about the experience of not understanding the experience of sight, rather than the actual sensory experience of seeing. This sounds like a technicality, but it isn't. The person in question has never seen, so he or she can not understand the experience of seeing. However, they can understand the experience of not being able to see, so they can write about not understanding the experience of sight.

Often, we think we know about something, we understand it, but then when we take the time to discuss it with someone, we realise we don't at all. In the same way, writing about something forces you to consider it, and unlike a conversation, you can take as much time as you want to consider your opinions, and you can be assured at the end that they are entirely your own. You can weasel out of the subject, or write around it, but then you ultimately haven't written about it; you've written about something else, and thoroughly missed the point.

The other reason to write requires much less explanation. It's fun! It's enjoyable! It feels good! Not everybody enjoys writing, but those who do it as a habit usually do. And who doesn't like doing things that they enjoy?

The points of writing are pretty fundamental: to understand, and to enjoy. The point of publishing is equally fundamental: to share. This sharing is often a means to an end: fame, money, respect; but I think that for the majority (and I hope the vast majority) of those who publish, the cementing, overriding end is the means: to share. Again, it might sound a bit trite, but the want to share is a natural want, is a logical want, and is a good want. With writing, it's a want to share that enjoyment and that learning you've experienced.

When I began this column, I introduced it as an exploration of why writers choose to write, and why I've chosen to write this, today. That was true, and it has been, but it has also been my personal process of understanding. By writing, I considered in more depth why I was creating The Column, and exactly what it was I chose to create, and I think I now understand the answers to those questions. I hope that through the process of publishing and sharing, I've managed to communicate some of those conclusions to you.

By Gabriel de Sousa.

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