What writing means to me

Ever since high school, writing has whisked up an electric excitement inside of me. Spelling out individual words letter by letter, listening to the way they sound next to each other, and re-arranging sections of text on the page give me a distinct pleasure.  I like the experience of inserting punctuation marks–like a painter dabbing a bit of paint onto a canvas–while keeping in mind (and continuously re-evaluating) the greater structure of the piece I’m writing.

I also like sharing my work, though this is always a complex undertaking. To start, publishing can be an exercise in self-congratulation and publicity. This is especially the case, as the British playwright Harold Pinter says, when writers offer “warnings, sermons, admonitions, ideological exhortations, moral judgments, defined problems with built-in solutions; all can camp under the banner of prophecy. The attitude behind this sort of thing might be summed up in one phrase: ‘I’m telling you!'”

Conversely, sharing one’s thoughts and feelings can be terrifying. I have often had the creeping sense that what I have to offer is worthless and unoriginal–especially in comparison to true Literary Greats.

In the face of these these pitfalls, though, I am reminded of a wonderful moment early in my 9th grade English class. After I read a piece of personal writing aloud, my teacher thanked and encouraged me, reflecting that it is always extremely difficult to “go public with ourselves.” And even more energizing than the positive reception of my work, was the experience of having it serve as the catalyst for our discussion in class that day. This was the real magic of writing: sharing my thoughts, and having them heard, interpreted, and discussed. Clearly, one line of thinking could spawn an infinite number of creative and unique responses, expanding the original idea into a beautiful constellation of greater feeling and awareness.

Practicing the craft of writing, and sharing my thoughts, then, are two major purposes I have in starting this blog. I want to reach out to, and communicate with, anyone interested in exchanging ideas.

During March and April of this year, I lived in this house/structure, in the mountains of western Puerto Rico.

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My rent, living on this 26 acre fruit farm, was an hour of farm labor each day. I got to plant, harvest and eat food straight from the ground, like plantains, coffee beans, pineapples, coconuts, mangoes, yautía, oranges, starfruit, cacao, and much more. Best of all, I had time to sit, think, read, and write. Doing this in the early morning, as the sun rose above the mountains, or in the afternoon after finishing work, was pure bliss.

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I have since returned home to Maryland for the summer, and am figuring out my next steps in life. I think that reflecting on a wide range of ideas and experiences, here, has great potential to give me direction towards the things that are most meaningful for me–as well as the potential to offer insights to readers.

I’d like to discuss education, teaching, travel, history, literature, politics, philosophy, and art, of all sorts. And I’d like to warmly welcome commentary and critical analysis of what I write here.

I am excited to start; thanks for reading!

Elliott

 

 

 

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