Saturday, January 17, 2009
Just taking a short break from serialising “Past Life” to answer a rather fundamental question that a reader emailed me … why do I write?
That’s one of those questions that causes me to pause and take a deep breath before diving in, because it has answers on various levels. Deep down I would say that it goes back to our human nature as creative and expressive beings – life seems to be driven by an almost universal desire to express ourselves in creative acts. Of course there are many ways to create (creating mayhem not excluded!) so I guess the real question is, why have I chosen writing as my creative medium.
Well, first, I have to say that it’s not just writing; I find photography to be a very rich expressive medium too – sometimes a picture will say more than words ever can, but at other times a subject needs the richness and more precise expressiveness of words.
At heart, all writing is creative; not just the so called ‘creative writing’ of university courses. Even a technical document is creative; it’s creative because the writer is seeking to produce an artefact (book, article, web page, report … etc.) that precisely transmits an idea or concept from one person’s mind to another person’s understanding. Given the potentially poor ‘signal to noise ratio’ involved with language based communication (written or spoken) that task presents a uniquely creative challenge for every communication.
Unlike the spoken word, writing allows a more considered, polished, use of language – we can draft, revise, perhaps have our work peer reviewed and tested, before we finally deliver it. And when we do deliver those carefully crafted words, they do not go out as sound waves that are heard once and then lost; they are captured in some form that gives them substance and life. It’s the same with photography; its one thing to say “look at that” to another person, but an altogether better experience to attempt to capture that visual experience in a picture that can be shared with a wider audience.
So, to sum up, both writing and photography are ways of creating richly expressive artefacts that transcend the ‘now’ moment. To create either requires both analytical and intuitive thought process that use both sides of the brain, and overall I find that a very rewarding and satisfying means to helping and giving pleasure to others.
Of course it’s always possible that the reader’s question was rhetorical; if that’s the way you write, why bother ;-)