I don’t often actually think about what goes behind writing something. Don’t get me wrong now! I am certainly not one of those people who thinks writing is easy. I don’t believe it’s too hard, otherwise I wouldn’t even try it! I think it’s a great way of communicating and my strongest form of free expression.
But to actually think about what goes on in ones mind to get things, words, into writing. I both had and hadn’t thought about it.
I read an article yesterday called Secret to writing well lies in learning to think and feel. It’s a lengthy title, but a thoughtful piece. It’s written by a teacher in Hong Kong, or a former teacher maybe, that has been asked why the students can’t write well in English.
I myself was a native Spanish speaker. However, I learned to write, at age 5 and beyond, like everyone else around me – in English. I don’t have the same troubles my siblings and parents all have with the language. In fact, I’m a bit of a walking dictionary. And I’ve been told I correct people on their grammar a lot. But I’m also a lover of languages. I picked up on the written Spanish not long after starting in English. I would say I’m not as proficient in it, but I know more than enough to communicate. I’ve also been learning French, German, Gaelic Irish, and some limited Latin. I tried to teach myself Chinese for all of an hour once. I will have to revisit that some later time.
But learning a language, even a culture, won’t put you in the same situations and mindset as being born and raised as one of them. And that is the case the author made in this article. She saw writing like I do, as a means of communication, a deep emotional kind of connection that is more than just the written words, but the connotation behind them.
I particularly loved this part:
What distinguishes the brilliant from the merely competent writer is invariably the former’s willingness and ability to give himself away in writing.
Perhaps this personal, all-important aspect of writing has been so long neglected by teachers because unlike the social aspect, it is not something that can be easily taught.
We can feel and we can write. But often times, we may forget to feel what we write. I think a lot about journalist when I write this. Particularly in today’s time, so soon and yet so long after the tragedy in the elementary school in Connecticut. I think back on the days and weeks after the terrorists attacks and so many other times when whoever is reporting the news seems to distant themselves from their words. They forget that their are people, both behind their stories and receiving these news, people who will feel and think and listen and hurt. They are more than words. Writing, they may seem no more than ink stains on paper, but together they have powerful meaning. And to harness that power, it really should be dealt with much greater responsibility.