The mouth-watering aroma of cardamom and cinnamon flavoured curry from the kitchen travels tantalizingly to my desk; the bustling noise outside the window invites me to participate in the morning discussion at the square over a cup of tea; the erratic piano notes my daughter managed to strike urge me to chide her and the wintry sun peeping through the window gently bathing my face beckons me to forget everything and just go out and enjoy it. However, with knitted eyebrows, sweaty palms and a vacant look I pick up my pen to write but unfortunately, I feel lost. Lost like a small fish in a vast ocean who does now know what it is searching for. I must confess, writing does not seem to be my forte. I cannot write.
The blank page looks at me as if mocking my failure and silently suggesting that I give up. Is writing so difficult? Is there any point to writing? I remind myself that great philosophers have spoken against it. The treaties of Plato are a testimony of how Socrates himself mistrusted writing as the medium of transmitting truth and believed that only through oral means can one attain the truth. He went even further to say that writing weakens the memory of those who rely on it and is a poor substitute for speech - passive and impersonal. So why bother?
Nevertheless, my pen struggles free itself from the age-old anxiety and despair of being unable to write. With all the determination I can muster, I draw my traces hard and dig my pen into the paper, putting my best foot forward. With a straight back and steady hands, I get ready to embark upon the journey of writing and reach the first stage - brain-storming and ideating. I start to scribble words randomly on the paper, words that come out like the first gust of the autumn wind that rips the leaves away.
I take a look at my effort and am overwhelmed with the rambling ideas splashed across the page, not knowing which of them to include and which to leave for the trash can. I suspect writing is not everyone’s cup of tea but requires special talent, and inherent quality and some innate capacity – all which I do not possess. However, before even know it, I am surprised to find I have completed the first stage of writing the essay, although there is still a long way to go. Do I see a beacon at the other side of the dark tunnel or is it just a mirage I chase; a false hope, an illusion that I am under. Who cares? Good for a start, I console myself.
Writing is not necessarily an inherent talent, but is an honest and tireless enterprise for which one needs focus, diligence and perseverance.
The notes from the piano have now started flowing in some sort of a rhythm. I gently canter to the second stage of writing – organizing all the disjointed words and inching closer to my task like a measuring worm. Just when I feel I am getting somewhere, I receive a jolt. My eyes wander all over the page to spot an emerging pattern but I can see nothing, almost like a visually impaired man trying to spot star groupings in the night sky.
How can there be anything when I do not know what I am even looking for? But as luck would have it, after all the struggle, I do find something and in a sudden miraculous flash, the Pegasus, the Orion, the Big Dipper, all emerge from the page. Suddenly, I am at the threshold of becoming a writer.
With Pegasus’ wings, I cautiously fly to the third stage of my writing with a definite structure and course in place. I have come a long way from the faltering, unsure phase to a point where I am confident and aware of where I am headed. Things don’t look that difficult now, and I am beginning to realize that writing is not necessarily an inherent talent bestowed by god, but is an honest and tireless enterprise for which one needs focus, diligence and perseverance.
My excuses against writing dissipate, like a fog does with the first rays of the morning sun. I review my thoughts and conclude that writing today has come a long way from the time of the Greeks and sadly, history has decided against Socrates. I also realize that the endeavor to write has helped systematize my thoughts and information while organizing my ideas cohesively. As Walter J Ong said, “Writing has restructured human consciousness in a way and has increased both wisdom and cultural memory”. I couldn’t agree more.
I am impressed and satisfied with myself. But will my readers be? Now that´s a million dollar question!
The writer is an M Phil student at the Institute of Advanced Communication, Education, and Research (IACER, Kathmandu