In my last post, I described how I moved from my initial doodled flowchart to something more expansive and systematic. As a writing experiment – the independent study started off with a reading/writing focus after all – I was asked to attempt to summarise the infographic in a couple of paragraphs. I did two summaries just based on my knowledge of the flowchart, and without actually referring to it:
The first part of the infographic – the part that is structured – is the part that has been in my head for 3 years. It is me trying to establish how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to write. Everything that I wrote then was about him. Everything that I wrote then was a result of a confluence of factors that could only have happened at that time. I wanted to simultaneously remember my emotions during that time – since there was no other way for them to be manifested – and to forget them, to release them from my system by a process of catharsis. I decided specifically to write because to find the right word is to find a moment of clarity, to be able to control something that was overwhelming. I read texts at the time that seemed to reveal writing to be a process of crystallization.
The second part of my infographic is me being lost. I framed it as a search for authenticity, and what this means is that I have lost the only thing that felt authentic, immediate, piercing enough to be put into words. Now, what is there to write about? What have I experienced, what have the people around me experienced that deserves to be put into words? Is it these experiences that are lacking, or is it my ability as a writer? How will I be able to continue writing if I have nothing but the commitment to the act of writing? How will I move forward? I am not happier, I’m just not as sad as I used to be. I question myself, my skills, my worth. I question because I have always questioned. I have nothing to hold onto as a symbol of my pain.
I arrived at the conclusion that I needed to write via two stages. The first stage is the realization of a burden that I needed to release (to be forgotten), but was at the same time too important to simply abandon (I must remember). The second stage is the realization that the expression of my emotions in words would provide moments of clarity, prompted by texts that I studied at the time. It was also important for the writing to be transformative – the process of choosing the right words was not only a process of crystallization, but also one of detachment through an aesthetic impulse.
The material off which I had fed at the time when I began writing felt intensely real to me. Now, since the emotions of that time are gone, repressed, distant – I find myself lost in a crisis of absent content. Me worrying about the authenticity of my writing is me realizing that I don’t know what to write about, and I manifest my fear of committing to the wrong “material” or “voice” in an endless paranoid extension of my concerns. This is also fundamentally a questioning of my self-worth, and of the validity of a long-term investment in the act of writing.
These summaries were crystallisations of my writer’s block – the reason why I could not write now, was because the very specific reason why I had begun to write had disappeared. I would later find that this dynamic of reflection and self-analysis would be very helpful in discovering a possible style; this would come months after the first flowchart.