Here’s one for all my fellow writer-thinkers out there :)
I’ve written about Haruki Murakami multiple times by now, and in some ways I can’t help it – I have such a love/hate relationship with his writing and his stories. The irony is, while the former is exactly my cuppa, the latter isn’t always so. Sometimes I get his point-of-views, but in truth most times I scratch my head trying to decipher the hidden meanings and piece together the complexities of the human emotions, as described by him.
Then there are paragraphs such as this one where he makes total, absolute perfect sense.
Over the past three months that I was away from drama-watching and really, life in general, I returned to the most fundamental of my interests – reading and writing. I read random short stories here and there; I read multiple articles daily of all kinds that caught my interest; I blog-hopped and visited many blogs at random, scouring and absorbing the ways in which each writer string together words to form sentences which come alive in their own voices; I attended reading and talk sessions featuring random, published authors; I observed, read, thought and learned.
It didn’t take me long to realize my mistakes when it comes to writing, even here – I was wrong to think that all pieces must be chugged at once. I was wrong to dislike and abhor drafts. Like with everything else, timing is key; sometimes the idea is there, but the execution requires time. Sometimes the emotions are palpable, but the words won’t come together fittingly. Sometimes both emotions and ideas are present, but maturity in the thought process is absent. Whatever the case, the answer is one and the same, “you’ve got to give it time.”
So I learned to restrain, and to listen. I learned to absorb words and emotions, letting them simmer and mature in the crevices of my mind. I learned to learn through others, to not be afraid and what more feel envious of others’ writing styles and skills. I learned that patience transcends religious practices – it applies to writing just the same: be patient and you will reap the rewards. The(your) time will come.
These days I think about writing more than before, which is strange and surprising.
It’s like the harder the deck of cards in my hands are, the more I turn to writing. Sometimes I pause and remind myself I need to nurture the engineering side too – the reason I’m not doing as well as I used to is because I’m too preoccupied and drunken in this passion for writing; this must change. Sometimes I entertain the idea of pursuing writing more seriously, and return to the jumble of words that I’ve collected, rearranging them in my mind and on (e)paper until they convey my sentiments. Sometimes I reread passages and paragraphs I’ve saved from my World Wide Web ventures and Kindle e-books. I started reading poems again, finding solace in four lines, twelve words, that complete a piece.
I finally understand what some people mean too, when they say that unlike other languages, the English language is limited. I have always loved English – I put-together words better using it than with Malay – but now I can’t help but agree. There are simply no words sometimes, to describe the fragility of emotions. I’ve come across random words in Japanese, Greek and French, to name a few, which describe exactly the unease in my mind and heart but none of them exist in the English language except through long-winded sentences. As a result, my attempts at writing in the past three months felt doubly difficult; it’s like my vocabulary simply couldn’t capture the intangibles I see and feel.
At this short distance away from the tumultuous past three months, it’s weird; when I try to remember and look back at them, my mind is a blank canvas. Was the past weekend so painfully shocking that I have since suppressed all things related to it? For all my declarations about acceptance, I am perhaps the biggest phony of all. It is so, so hard to accept things and outcomes for what they are. It is so hard to accept adulthood in all its brokenness, bad decisions, added responsibilities, aging elderly and familial commitments.
The other day over one of the buffet lunches at Sin City, Housemate #1 asked what I felt when I was in that in-between phase, ergo post-graduation and pre-Stanford. In other words, how had I been during summer? I laughed and responded, “Before or after Stanford the real-life happened?”
Here’s the thing – before the Real Life version happened, I wanted this. I wanted everything about it – the school, the program, the relocation, the additional two years, the solitude and more. Everything that came with this decision, I wanted them. In other words, I chose this.
Then as we all know, the Real Life version happened.
“It’s not that I regret or anything, but it’s… strange. Whenever I try to think back to the past three months, I can’t recall anything substantial. Surely that isn’t the case? Didn’t I make friends? Didn’t I survive in one piece in the end? Didn’t I manage to connect with professors? Didn’t I spend time outside, here and there? But… I feel panicked, because I just can’t seem to remember. All I remember was the hours I spent studying and being on campus playing catch up, or coming back and sleeping. When I wasn’t studying, I slept. Now I keep questioning, is this really life? I understand and believe the concept that one must slog to reap the benefits in future – I understand that, I really do. But when you’re actually in the motion of simply existing – it’s like I was a zombie. Everything was mechanical. Is this really the life that I wanted? Was this what I chose? But I did. I chose it, everything. I wanted this. I think that’s the hardest part to reconcile with.”
So I return to written words, beautifully strung sentences and the voices of others to try to make sense of my own muffled one. I can’t say the lesson’s learned, because the journey’s truly only begun, nor can I say that clarity has settled in… but I think returning to my most fundamental basis greatly helped.
My writing, however broken and weak, took me out of the dark reveries of my mind.
“It’s been that way since I was little.
When I didn’t understand something, I gathered up the words scattered at my feet, and lined them up into sentences. … Other children gathered pretty stones or acorns,
and I wrote.”