The Reason I Write

May 12, 2012

Let’s start this essay a bit of self-deprecation. To be honest, I don’t consider myself a good writer, but I am certain that writing is one of my hobbies. I do it when I feel inspired. I do it when I have a story to tell. I do it when I want people to know something, or when I just need my emotions to run free.

However, I just came across a thought a while ago. Why did I start writing in the first place? I mean, I could have been interested in any other hobby as life permitted me to be. I could have taken up dancing or some sport or public speaking or painting, etc. So why writing?

I think that at the core of it all, I write because I couldn’t draw. I could not draw to save my life. Seriously. I am absolutely no good at the visual arts. I have developed a keen sense of appreciation for it, and I believe I could say with conviction that I have developed my own personal style or preference for art. Unfortunately, all these imaginative concepts stay in my head because my hands simply refuse to coordinate with the right hemisphere of my brain and translate the images on paper or canvas.

I’ve always secretly been envious of people who could draw. Ever since the second grade, I have been aware of this jealousy. I still remember two of my classmates, Joshua and Celiz, who were amazing artists, and at the age of eight, they could sketch any cartoon character in complete likeness and even invent their own. In high school, my friend Therese was the resident artist of not just our batch, but I believe the whole school. She was the best and she had her own unique style that was unmistakable. She did drawings, landscapes, still life when she was bored in class, paintings for the school paper covers, and dress sketches for prom.

I could never do any of that. I was never a master of form and lines, and I even have trouble drawing a perfect circle (even though it is believed that engineers are required to do so). I couldn’t draw and I couldn’t paint, and God knows that I’m a mediocre photographer. See, even with the camera, that instrument that put painters out of business in the early days, that medium that allowed for a snapshot of reality which was more real than any hand-made work, I could not bend towards my will, to capture that vision in my head.

That is why I write. I paint with words. My lines are the lines of each paragraph, and my sketches are drafts. My colors are my adjectives and my canvas is a blank page or an empty Word Document if I’m working on a computer. I may not be eloquent with my hand strokes, but I like to think my vocabulary makes up for it. Also, I do believe that style is as intrinsic to writing as it is in the visual arts. There is style in semantics and tone. I don’t think you’d argue with me when I say that Wilde’s iridescent essays that sound good both when said aloud and read silently are as unmistakable as Van Gogh’s impressionism. Writing is distinguishable even though when looked at from afar, it all looks the same – a block of letters printed on paper.

On another note, I think that writing has an advantage over the visual arts sometimes. Paintings and drawings – they are so obscene (for lack of a better word). The image in the artist’s head is already out there for you to see. It isn’t a perfect copy of the idea, but it’s certainly close enough if the artist deems it to be. The message is clear and with just one glance, you can absorb all the emotions and colors that jump at you as the light hits the artwork’s surface. Of course, there are abstract paintings, works of the modern era, where you just stare at paint splashes and paint lumps and stripes or dots and wonder what they could all mean. Apparently, the artist was trying to portray a deer, or some sort of far-fetched idea you couldn’t connect yourself. For those kinds of artworks, you do have to try a little bit harder, but even that isn’t half as hard as the effort you have to put in when you read writing.

With writing, it’s different. You paint word by word, and the audience can only take in the picture word by word and not at one glance. It has to be perused, digested bit by bit in order to make sense. There is a need for coherence, where each line flows as smoothly as waves of water and each line just carries the reader on to the next line until he or she finishes the whole paragraph and blinks in understanding.

The greatest part about writing is that it is the opposite of the visual arts in the sense that it is not as obscene. It requires two sets of imagination – the artist’s and the audience’s. A detailed description can only go so far. There is beauty in the imperfection of words – they are limited and subjective. They are not accurate, changing from language to language, and even the specific portrayal in text of ‘dark mahogany brown bathed in the fading sunlight from a dusty window’ can still differ from person to person. That way, the limitation of words to produce one exact picture, is its own strength because in the mind of each reader, there is a different and unique picture painted there, and with it, each reader is able to recognize and establish a different sense of beauty.

The image that the reader establishes in his or her mind might be a far cry from the image in the writer’s mind. Given, there could be some things in the writer’s intention that could be lost in translation. However, the writer is fully aware of this. I am fully aware of this, and I feel no frustration if a reader comes up to me with a totally different take or concept of my work as compared to what I originally planned. The difference is opinions, at least for me, is nothing but grounds for more creative discussions, and since two sets of imagination are involved, the message I initially intended to get across gets added on to by my reader with his or her own personal input, and I only think that makes the message more effective; it makes the message hit closer to home for the reader because he interprets it in his own special way.

So basically, that is why I write. After all is said and done, I write because I absolutely suck at drawing.

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3 Responses to “The Reason I Write”

  1. ninabanana Says:

    Kali, I beg to disagree on your first statement. You’re an awesome writer. 🙂

  2. monzterrific Says:

    I like the way you differentiated the visual arts and the art of writing. This gives awareness.

    • itsellectric Says:

      Exactly so. I’m glad you liked it. I really meant on juxtaposing the two art forms most especially because they are the ones that most people try to judge and are involved in.

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