July 22nd, 2013
|08:05 am - Words. Labels. Identity. Mode of being.|
I call myself a writer, but it involves fudging the label. Taking a page from Alice and insisting that a word mean what I say it means. Yes, I write. For over a year now I have written a minimum of 750 words a day. Do those words exist in any form other than as specific variations of electrical charge on one machine or another? They do not. Are they accessible by the public? They are not. Do they in any way cohere beyond my having authored them all? They do not. Only my word (there is that word again) exists that the files themselves contain more than "I have nothing to say" repeated over and over one hundred fifty times a day. Is that writing? Strictly speaking, yes. So I write.
Does it count if I don't share it, though? Does it count if I share it but it isn't, strictly speaking, published? Does it count if it is published but not on anything permanent, like paper? Does it count if it is written, on paper, but buried in a notebook? One of dozens currently taking up space in a box under my bed, and a chronicle even less likely to be perused than its online progeny? I have certainly spilled plenty of ink in my time, but is that writing? Am I a writer? Some questions are easier: am I a published author? Well, no - unless you count my editorial essays for IROSF, or my thesis, or a few random zines here and there. Am I a successful writer? I can give you word count unending, but finished product? My product tends to be finished in terms of time span or physical space rather than story arc or denouement. Look, this is the last page of the notebook - that's an end. Look, this is the last sentence in this computer file dated 14 July at 3am - there's an end. Look, there's the person I am meeting for coffee, so I'll stop writing now - there's an end. Look, 750 words for today - there's an end. Ink and pixels flow quite easily, but the only narrative thread is my own stream of thought.
Sometimes I'll pick up an idea and shake it until it goes limp in my teeth, sure. That might look like a cohesive unit, and I might package it as such at some point of location or time; squint at it and call it an essay, or a post. Other times I'll try to frame something that puzzles me or irritates me or annoys me in a manner that lets me try to understand what all the fuss is about - my fuss, or someone else's fuss, or the intersection thereof. I'm much happier if I think I can understand something - I don't have to agree, by any means, but illogic will drive me to distraction faster than anything short of sheer physical pain. The times I have to resign the exercise with the idea that some types of human behavior operate on logic I simply can't perceive, or else are flat out part of a system of thoughts and behaviors not governed by even their own internal logic... those are the times I despair. (There's a fairly regular amount of despair, to no great surprise.) True to form, in meta-fashion, I have wandered from the topic; synecdoche personified. As above, so below. More accurate to say so below, possibly as above, because that is definitely the viewpoint, or the angle of attack. So by the most basic definition, I cling to calling myself a writer, okay. In my heart of hearts, okay. But outside? Out in public? I hesitate. I know the usage I employ is different from the norm.
So I am writing, yes; I write. The words flow thru me like a stream, at times; the fingers struggle to catch up, to capture and constrain the commentary. Oh, yes, if writing were simply taking dictation from my head I could out-pen all the old guard of letters, laid end-to-end. The words in my head have never shut up, with one or two exceptions involving anesthesia. Am I a writer because I put a cup under the endless flow? I call myself a writer because they won't leave me alone, the words, and it's a salve to cheer my battered self.