Saturday, May 3, 2014

fight for my right to write

I have a guilty pleasure.

And it is called writing.

Okay, maybe it is not guilty pleasure material.  Nevertheless, I have enjoyed writing for the longest time.  When I was a teenager, I began exchanging handwritten letters with friends and family, an activity that I carried well into adulthood.  Things then took a drastic turn in college, when I rediscovered the French language.  I started taking a vivid interest in verb conjugation, word gender and other aspects of the grammar, making it all work in every sentence written.  Answering an essay question on a French class exam was a very exciting moment, since it was essentially a creative writing opportunity.  Later on, a few years of my professional experience under my belt, I signed up for evening classes at Alliance française in a quest for fluency, so that I could describe what ever I wanted clearly, richly, and naturally.  In love with French classes again, I was able to develop my writing skills for four years, sometimes even having the instructor review my reports (and this was not homework).  During the same period, I maintained correspondences with Francophile and Francophone friends that would last several years (you can guess who wrote more).  For a time when I was in my twenties, I even got into travel reporting, producing detailed accounts of trips in French and sometimes in English as well.  Filling up 11 pages of a Microsoft Word document with a description of a two-week summer vacation spent in Europe remains one of my favorite memories.  You could say a memory of a memory.  And once I had finally settled in France and fluency in French was no longer a priority, I decided to try my hands at Spanish.  Guess how I started learning the language.  By writing.  While I spent some time improving my listening skills and my pronunciation, it was largely by writing out answers to questions in grammar exercises and by composing e-mails addressed to Spanish-speaking friends that I developed my interest in español for two years.  Also in romantic relationships, writing found a place.  I remember once having a dispute with a former girlfriend.  I had a point of view on the matter being discussed but I had difficulty in making it clear to her vocally.  So I decided to put it in writing.  That gave me the opportunity to put my thoughts together and to make them coherent.  After she saw (or rather read) the fruit of this effort, she was able to grasp a bigger picture and to understand better what was happening.  Or so it seemed.  She had broken up with me a month later.  I tried to get her back a few times by writing lengthy e-mails pleading that she reconsider.  Looking back now, that may not have been the best means, but I could not help it then.  I really wanted to write, so I wrote.

Today, in my thirties, and I am clearly still writing.  In fact, my writing efforts are mostly focused on my blog.  This blog.  It's a lovely thing, to have ideas to explore and express.  It takes a substantial amount of time to develop a idea and to structure the text that presents it, but, at the end of the day, it is a pleasurable activity.

Yet writing is like talking or thinking.  It is so easy to do.  And while one might succeed in giving the most compelling talk or in producing the most insightful thought, that alone would not suffice when it comes to changing a life for the better.  At the least, some action would be necessary.  Actually, a lot of action would be necessary if the exact purpose is change, and perhaps more so than a lot of talk or thought.

But I really enjoy writing and I do not want to give it up.  It is a guilty pleasure after all.  Who gives up guilty pleasures?  Besides, I am trying to liberate my mind, and writing appears to be useful to that end.  So what to do?  Well, you write ... and you act.  Even better ‒ you act and you reward yourself for the actions taken by getting to write.  Talk about a win-win situation.

Roughly speaking, every other article on this blog has been produced this way.  Usually, one article gets out every week.  Every odd-numbered week, I publish an article freely.  But to be able to publish on an even-numbered week, I have to act by completing a certain number of actions, or operations as I prefer to call them.  If this quota is not reached, then that week goes by without a published article.  Sure, I could care less about the number of the operations completed and patiently wait to publish during the odd-numbered weeks.  But I keep having ideas that I would like to explore and express, and I would very much prefer them being out there instead of clogging up my mind.  Also, I want to get stuff done, just because that tends to change a situation more than thinking, talking or writing a blog.  If I am rewarded for having gotten important stuff done with the offer of a guilty pleasure, it is really all good.

With continuous discipline, this relationship between writing and doing gets stronger.  Yet, if the doing remains the same over time like a habit, the level of excitement that was initially there will eventually decrease, the writing will start to lose its meaning, and, in the end, there will be nothing to fight for.  So the doing has to keep evolving, in quantity and in quality.

I do not want the ideas expressed in this blog to lose their meaning to me.  So I choose to keep applying them by doing.  Doing more and doing better.  Fortunately, there is a lot to be done.

Rest assured that I did fight for my right to write this.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks to Rémy for giving me the title of this article. So badass.