On the topic of writing

(Migrated from my decommissioned linguistics blog)

I tried being a creative writer. Once. When I was in High School. It didn’t take. I didn’t have the right stories to tell, or a connection to my characters, or a reason to write. So I stopped.
Then I became a writer of code.

if (logic > creativity) {



I wrote so I could control. My words dictated the behaviour of the system. One would think that computer programming and prose were mutually exclusive, except, they weren’t. My final essay on computer ethics brought me back to writing. I wrote on the evolution of humanity into a cyborg race. Something that sounds like it should belong in science fiction, but my piece was a non-fictional critique of the ethics of modern biotechnology. I suddenly realized that I don’t need to create characters or fantasize about imaginary places to have something to say.

if ( strangerthanfiction(truth) {

write (truth)


I became an academic whose words were exclusive and exclusionary. I wrote of history, cultures and the creation of heritage. I wrote of truth and lies, the imagined and the experienced. I delved into stories of the past that sparked an interest in understanding identity and the formation of self.  I questioned everything and everyone. I wrote so I could criticize. I wrote so I could understand.

Then, I became a teacher. I wrote so I could explain. I wrote so I could teach. I teach because I can’t? No. I teach because I love. I love language. I love learning. I love knowing. I love teaching. Writing? I can take it or leave it, but it is necessary for all of the other things that I love. Thus, I have become an incidental writer.

My sole response questioned my ambivalence towards writing, which really made me think about the writing process. I am an avid, yet obsessive writer. I check and double-check and edit and revise constantly. I fret and evaluate my language, moving sentences, changing words, erasing and un-erasing huge chunks. I don’t like writing. I love language. I love the power of words. But the actual act of writing, I find stressful. There’s too much meaning and power embedded in what we say and how we say it. I don’t want that responsibility. I’m clumsy enough as it is.

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