Writing as activism

Things seem to be pushing me lately to get writing again about the things I talk passionately about. Heated discussion (not necessarily heated because of disagreements) has always been a part of my life. My parents always encouraged me to think for myself, to find out when I didn’t know, to constantly question.

Talking about literature as activism (and activism for literature) at the Academy of Words started this ball rolling. Then I went back to uni and my teacher talked about how we use words to explore the consequences of the world’s happenings (“If this is so, then what are the implications?”). Then I read some of my uni texts and found myself sobbing by myself on my couch, hoping my housemates wouldn’t come home in time to see me like that (even with the explanation “Kids with cancer”, a red-eyed 25-year-old with tears running down her face, unable to speak properly, is not a pretty sight). Then my brother posted this to his new blog. He’s doing what’s basically an environmental science degree at ANU, and it’s not unusual for a phone conversation between us to be entirely about worm farms or gardens or cooking or food or what’s wrong with society. Our conversations aren’t short. But I’ve never really spent much time writing about them before.

Everything seems to be pushing me back towards writing about what intrigues me, what sets off that fire in my belly.

See, I tend to write to explore issues or relationships that intrigue me.

In fiction I write about characters with dementia, or men who are trying to deal with grief and still be ‘manly’, or middle-aged siblings trying to deal with their parents’ old age and death. These are situations I’ve not been in myself, but things I’ve observed in other people’s lives. And I just wonder, you know? I just wonder what it’s like to be them, how it feels. I want to come closer to understanding, and in sharing it with other people, I hope to provide an opportunity for others to at least think twice about people they pass in the street.

In non-fiction I write about food and cooking, yoga… Well. See, I’d like to write a whole lot more about some of the things that anger me, or frustrate me. Like some of the muddy definitions of ‘climate change’ that my brother refers to here. I’d like to write about lots of the ideas that he and I discuss. And lots of the ideas that I discuss with other members of my family, and those of my friends who are willing (or have no choice but) to listen to me ramble on in such a non-sensical way.

I’d also like to write a little more about the concepts I ramble about in my yoga classes (and write about on my yoga teacher blog), while my students hang their heads in paschimottanasana. I wonder, sometimes, if they’re wishing I’d just shut up and tell them about their hamstrings, or hurry up and get to the bit where I make the little relaxation-inducing adjustments on them. But they keep coming back, so maybe they don’t mind (or they suffer through it to get to the relaxation bit).

Anyway, I don’t really know what I’m getting at here. This is a bit of a rant. And this is me telling someone what my ideas and goals are, rather than just setting about achieving them — which apparently I’m not supposed to do if I actually want to achieve them.

I feel like my brain’s switching back on after a little rest. I guess that’s not a bad thing.

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6 thoughts on “Writing as activism

  1. I can certainly relate to your feelings of wanting to write about all these interests you have: it’s both a boon and a bane to be curious about EVERYTHING. I try to settle for reading widely and trusting it will all go into the mill and come out as something. And I’ve started to force myself to skim read so I can get to the good bits quicker. Generally this sort of miscellaneous information comes out in fiction, for me, but sometimes enough ideas click together that I have a halfway worthwhile non-fiction idea to pursue.

    In particular about this post, though, I was heartened to read: “I want to come closer to understanding, and in sharing it with other people, I hope to provide an opportunity for others to at least think twice about people they pass in the street.” To me that’s the most important societal function of literature, and it’s primarily why I write, anything, at all. And why I read.

    And I love that TED talk, but I think it should be taken with a grain of salt: depends where you’re at, I think; if you’re confident and determined and committed, talk away; if you’re a little doubtful of your ability and are maybe telling people to sense whether they reckon you can do it, keep it to yourself.

    • Good point about the TED talk. It definitely got me thinking about all the grand plans I’ve made in conversations, many of which have never come to fruition. Of course, many a plan I have talked about (and often at great length) has somehow become reality.

      Plan. There’s a whole new post in that one word.

      I have to admit, my primary reason for putting pen to paper is the selfish one. The sharing is always secondary. Which I suppose is normal.

      Again, a whole new post (or many) could come from my thoughts on the social function of literature. If I put it in my drafts now, I might even write it one day.

  2. Pingback: Where to start? | avocado and lemon

  3. Pingback: The social function of literature? | avocado and lemon

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