I have this blog. I don't like telling people that I write. I dislike even more telling people that I'm a writer, or even that I want to be. Because I'm not. I'm not really sure where the legitimate point is that you can tell someone that you 'are' something and not be a total jerk or wanker about it, especially with things like being a 'writer' or an 'artist' which are really vague concepts. I don't think I could feel justified in saying that I was really a writer unless I was living off it and even then I think I'd still feel like I was lying and being a bit wanky about it.
I mean, I really enjoy writing and I've said this many times in the past few months (where I am currently in a foreign city - or I am a foreigner in my current city - and am finishing the degree I have been doing for the past 4 years and am lacking a concrete answer to the question of what it is exactly that I 'do' or am doing here) "If I were to have a skill, then it would probably be writing" - It is the only thing that I can really pick out that I am generally capable of being good (not amazing but better than average, maybe) at, and to my own luck it is also something that I enjoy. The logical connection between these two facts would be that I should "be" a "writer". But it's not that simple.
First year out of highschool my university preferences were 1. Journalism and 2. Bachelor of Arts. Bachelor of Arts was what I really wanted to do anyway, but I hated the idea of telling people that that was what I was doing at uni, and also of having to explain what it was to people- that it's not art per se etc. - (and rightfully so as I thereafter found out), so I opted for journalism as my number one in the unlikely even that my half-arsed efforts of yr12 resulted in a TER good enough to get into the course. To my surprise and simultaneous disappointment/pleasure I scraped into journalism by .01% of my TER score. After six months - actually after about 2 days - of participating in this course I knew it wasn't what I wanted to do, however I still find it very difficult to see any other professional option for writing.
On the first day of Journalism class they told us,
"Journalism isn't about being a good writer, it's about getting good contacts and stories. Noone cares about what you say, or the way that you say it."
This was true and also good advice but not what I really wanted to be hearing at the time. I also took a creative writing class as the elective element of my journalism degree. This was the biggest load of bullshit I have ever legitimately encountered. It was a total sham. I wrote utter shit, knew I was doing it and the teacher soaked it up. He wanted shit. We made a play as a literary text or something and I acted as Bindi Irwin and it was this style of wank where it seems like it means something big and deep, so deep and meaningful that if you can't understand it it must just be because you're an idiot, but actually it doesn't mean anything. It did not mean anything. It was just nonsense we made up five minutes before class but we got such a good mark. And then I think I got less good marks for the things that I made as part of this course that were honest writing and not in this wanky bullshit style that they were looking for. I really hate that about writing.
and I don't know what I hated more, this course or journalism and these two things present themselves as being really the only two options for professional writing but I hate both of them, yet there is no part of actual writing, the writing that I choose to do, that I do not enjoy.
A few months ago I started an internship at a magazine here in Berlin and was merely reminded of the fact that journalism is:
a. not something I enjoy and
b. not something that I am good at.
It's bizarre because it's writing, but I am really genuinely quite terrible at this style of simplistic writing and I find it incredibly difficult, frustrating and time consuming. But theoretically it's what I want to do? I don't know, I just had the same feeling, and realisation, as I'd had when I started the journalism degree and that was that I hate this it's vapid and I can't do it and I don't want to anyway.
So then, the natural conclusion must be that the writing I enjoy (and am good at (?)) must be 'creative writing'. Berlin is a great city for creative writing. It is cheap and consequently a place that people come to to write. I did a little bit of searching and came up with a few literary journals produced in the city along with a store supporting independent publishing. I went into this store and talked to the people there. They were pretty friendly but also somehow really 'cool' (rather than being total dorks which is how I imagine most good writers to actually be) and I had that feeling of that I was some how less intelligent, less legitimately a writer and less cool because I didn't really know many of the things that they were talking about. Basically I went there and asked how one goes about submitting to a journal or writing something and having it independly published or connecting oneself with other writers in the city.. not really crazy or bizarre questions but these questions were relatively unanswered and I was instead given a large pile of "art" journals, which I bought, took home, and read... and they gave me the similar feeling that the boy in the store had given me when I'd asked me about the books. I felt like I was stupid for not understanding what the point of these publications was. I felt like they were cool and aesthetically pleasing and from an overview seemed like really interesting concepts, like there must be something meaningful or interesting inside, but after glossing through all these publications and cool ideas and collaborations I came out with a feeling that I had found very few items of real substance, but also feeling that I must be the less intellectual one for not having found them. Maybe I am, I don't know, maybe I just need to know more about art or read more or take more drugs or be more open minded. But actually I've read a lot and the university essays I read make a lot more linear sense and have more impacting points behind them (unsurprisingly) than any of the things I took home from that store. Aren't we seeking to move people or to communicate something by our writing? I felt like these pieces of writing were just things whirling around and looking beautiful, that one could maybe make a meaning out of if they intended to do so, but didn't have to. They weren't open or honest or vulnerable or true.
I think that is the key of what frustrated me about these pieces, the lack of simplicity and honesty and the resultant vulnerablity that comes with that. The humanity of it - That is what is interesting about writing and about other people's writing and about reading, seeing into the human mind, feeling how other people feel, experiencing something that can really only be experienced by re-reading something that has been re-told by writing on paper, it's so different than explaining something aloud. The experience described and re-read is experienced more internally than something that's merely said aloud and heard by a passive listener. Reading is somehow more active. But then why does everything have to be this vague bullshit that can 'mean whatever you want it to mean' - why can't people just write something honest and true about their lives, or admit that they don't have any idea, and just tell a story.
If someone can tell me where to find this kind of writing, this simple writing, this honest writing that makes you feel connected to the author, and to the rest of the world rather than feeling separated and inferior to and from it, please let me know. I have found it a few times, in the books I have loved, sometimes in blogs, in zines (which have a misleading and unnecessary connection with being used to make heavy political statements or the like but the beautiful thing about zines is that they can be whatever you make them and I think that the wonderfully great zines are the ones where people tell these simple stories about things that have actually happened). I think the great skill of writing is being able to make something mundane sound interesting, or real, making things sound real whether they are or they aren't, making them believable and understandable and imaginable.
This is the kind of writing I wish to produce and the kind of writing I also wish to seek out. I find it endlessly frustrating that the current writing, at least what I have discovered in this city at this point in my searches, maybe I've been looking in the wrong places, is so far from simplicity and honesty and humanness and so obsessed with being something other than what it is, coming out from people who are so obsessed with being someone other than themselves I think. I hate that about art. People get so carried away with it as an identity that they hide themselves behind this crazy persona that's totally forged and believe somehow that they've created a better personality but I believe that there is something really really beautiful about people in their most simple, open, honest self, even with all their flaws because they all come from a history or a reason and I'm so tired of this focus on distorting everything, it's not making anything any more interesting or any more beautiful.