You had to know that this day was coming – anticipated – the question that has been lingering for over a year. The drive, the cope, and the inspiration; what is the point of all this? Why write? There are so many other things to do with the time given throughout the day: Create music, play sports, go exercise, or even be around those you love… and yet here we are researching, studying, and writing. The attempt to learn more about what we, as individuals, believe and what potential lurks within us. Writing has always been a fear. Saying the wrong thing, or the frustration created by the gap between what I want to convey in my writing and what I manage to actually put on paper. Confidence, for me, is hard to come by as a writer.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”
In my first year of College I was given a free write assignment of my history as a reader and it was then I realized that my fear and lack of quality writing production was linked to my history as a reader.
“August 30, 2012
Week 2: Types of Text
My history as a reader is not exactly an interesting one. I find myself having a difficult time being attached to a piece of writing. My eyes just seem to glance over the words and I constantly have to reread several sentences over and over again due to my lack of concentration. Sadly, the only books I’ve been able to read cover to cover with no difficulty are the Harry Potter books. Occasionally I’ve picked up a couple of the Chicken Soup books, but I find those to be more therapeutic than anything; very light reading. With academia, the only texts I’ve been able to wrap my head around are History texts, particularly United States History. I like History; it’s been a great interest to me, from the beginning of the Enlightenment and Revolutionary War, to the September 11th attack and beyond. You can forget about me attempting words problems in a Mathematic textbook. Yuck! I have pondered that my dislike for word problems, especially as my education became higher, might be linked to my lack of English education.
High School was rough in the sense of for only one year I had the same teacher, my first two teachers were in and out due to cuts or maternity leave. My senior year I opted for Music History for my English credit, which was okay because at the time I wasn’t envisioning myself attending a college, so I only focused on my graduation credits. Has my reading changed as I have gotten older? Most likely not. When I read I feel uneducated and therefore discouraged. I’m ready to change that.”
I never took myself seriously when writing that assignment, especially with those last two sentences, “Most likely not, when I read I feel uneducated and therefore discouraged. I’m ready to change that.” Originally when writing those lines I had the “I’ll just bullshit this last paragraph to show that I reached the two paragraph limit” mentality. Little did I know then that I was really writing about how I felt about myself in an area I had always been so embarrassed in. It provided a drive to overcome this fear of mine. “Words can be like X-rays, if you use them properly they’ll go through anything. You read and you’re pierced.” – Aldous Huxley.
As I open my first college English textbook I found a note written inside from myself to myself. A note that clearly depicts the frustration I had within myself, about myself, “I’m not good at writing… That’s because you’ve never written before! I just want my education.” I forgot I had written that… It was a moment for me when my heart broke and I went with it. Before I continue – Disclaimer: Just because I’m willing to open myself up on here doesn’t give you the right to begin to ask me 50 questions regarding whatever topic I choose to discuss, sadly, doesn’t really matter who you are to me – I will gladly accept feedback regarding any post but will not ask play: ask the questions game. Reading and writing have always been subjects enforced through school, as it should be. But with the social unacceptance I dealt with as a child, reading and writing became just another bully of mine. A bully there to constantly nag at me and make any effort it could to shred any confidence regarding education as possible. And then I met Joan.
With no intention of forcing others to change their minds I’ve always felt an urge, or maybe even an importance, to share an insight into who I really am. Self-discovery, the theme to this series, has a vital role in the lives we choose to live. I’m torn between writing about insight into who I am when more times than not I feel as if I have no idea who I am at all and this is reason as to why I read and write. I read and write to challenge myself, discover my thoughts, the reasons behind how I react and why I react. I’ve always felt underhanded with education therefore; when I expressed my thoughts, feelings, and opinions others would learn something Just as I have learned something, preferably about myself. Then, as we all learn, we have the power to hurt those we surround ourselves with using the words we choose to use. “In many ways writing is the act of saying I, of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying listen to me, see it my way, change your mind. It’s an aggressive, even a hostile act.”— Joan Didion.
I am not a scholar. I am not a conformist. I am not an inspiration. I’ve tried to think and I have failed. I force myself and my brain into this world of higher education and I don’t belong here. I’m not even a writer – all I manage to do collect thoughts and place them down on paper. I don’t create worlds and magic and allow others to think. I just talk and place my thoughts on here, to remind myself later of the potential I hold within. It’s not always bad and it’s not always good, but reading Didion has allowed me to connect with a writer and author and I was beginning to overcome this long time bully. I wrote in a response assignment to Didion’s work:
October 16, 2012
“The real meat of her writing though is when she finally explains why she writes. ‘I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.’ I can’t put in words how spot on this is for me; Didion’s words are just so powerful! Over time I have come to develop an animated imagination, and I like to write (well no, I love to write, yet I have a hard time with English and Reading). I love the fact I can put any and all thoughts down on paper and discover my thought process, or what I think about certain issues, or if I want to vent about my life, my goals, my dreams, or even to tell a story. The reasons are never ending! When I write though, I want to be real. I’m not sure how else to put that into a word other than real. Honest. When readers read what I put down [on paper] I want them to feel as if I am in front of them having a one-on-one discussion at a coffee house; I feel that is a reasonable idea. Last and most importantly, ‘I knew that I was no legitimate resident in any world of ideas. I knew I couldn’t think. All I knew then was what I couldn’t do. All I knew was what I wasn’t and it took me some years to discover what I was.’”
That’s exactly what reading should be: a conversation between you and the author and the learner has to question themselves and the teacher. Didion provided a great inspiration and I haven’t stopped writing ever since and as I have journeyed through this new world of ideas, writings, and readings, I have found many sayings that have thus continued to either inspire me or push me to think of why this is relatable to me and the process of discovering myself. In order to discover yourself, keeping an open mind is vital. Too often we see students (and adults) become so quick to reject too soon and discriminate too severely when it comes to reading others writings – it’s all about keeping an open mind. Many will go to great lengths to keep those who create the flow of imagination and yet I am that villain to myself. “Symptoms as such are not our enemy, but our friend; where there are symptoms there is conflict, and conflict always indicates that the forces of life which strive for interventions and happiness are still fighting. Many of them are normal because their human voice has been silenced so early in their lives that they do not even struggle or suffer or develop symptoms as the neurotic does.” — Aldous Huxley. I create and flow just as intently as I keep myself from creating and flowing. This is the Open Mind Project.
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Richard Steele.
“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” — Philip Pullman.
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott.
“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books, and the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us. That is my belief.” – Franz Kafka.
I have a deep rooted ambition to be the kind of writer that makes my readers think, second guess, and inspire them to achieve a higher level of success then they already have. I just want to inspire readers in the same way I have been inspired. “But the soul of a book can be separated from its body. A book is more like the score of a piece of music than it is like a painting. No great musician confuses a symphony with the printed sheets of music,” Adler explains “in the second place, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written.” So here I am – alone with my thoughts and attempting to open myself up, to you. I sit here and I think about what I’ve learned, read, felt passionate about, and what frightens me. “What is you’re so afraid I’ll do?” I ask myself. Fail is the answer. I think a lot and that scares me. However I’ve learned the dignity to be loyal to something you believe in, and holding on to it because if you choose to have a closed mind about your world, and how things should be done, an unwillingness to accept people for who they are and that they are who they are based on the way they were raised, situations they have experienced, and the people they surround themselves with. If you refuse to take the liberty to understand that, just as you are a unique individual, that everyone else around you is different as well, then you refuse to see the beauty that is the world, not just your world. Secrets: Secrets come with a price, they are not free. Others will tell you different and even defend the opposite but knowledge is power - and some fight and think that having too much knowledge is well, too much. Makes things hard and we shouldn’t have it. My argument is that we have the power to react; we also have the power to choose our reactions, both the good and the bad, and it’s only up to us to react in a positive light for ourselves. No such thing as too much knowledge. The world isn’t always bright lights and positives. We just have to learn to accept it.
“BLESSED are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers, mystics, painters and troubadours. For they teach us to see the world through different eyes.” — Jacob Nordby.
We are taught to see the world through different eyes by the words of the weird people. Words of the weird people that we have read. Words of the weird people that they have written down. Words of the weird people that then influence us to accept and have an open mind to those we come into contact with each and every day.