Expanding a writing ecology

I need to write more–so says every “writer” or writing-enthused person I’ve met. But something always gets in the way. Or perhaps the opposite occurs. An existential sluggishness pauses our pen strokes on the page. You have the time, but it’s never the right time.

Lately, I’m going through some busy changes. Driving more. Starting up my PhD soon, at teaching orientations now. Reading lots of interesting books. Meeting new people. In the usual paradox, such change takes time, but it also requires the time to process. It takes away time to write, yet provides the right “time” in  different sense.

Perhaps, its a matter of Kairos. For rhetoric, Kairos refers to the apt time for a rhetorical move. It’s that moment when you slip in that well-received one-liner or publish that rabble-rousing pamphlet to waiting hands.

Writing requires its own Kairos sometimes. Some don’t have that luxury. Take William Zinsser. He wrote whether he wanted to or not. And so do most writers. Many writers can write without needing that kairotic timing. Tohugh they may notice the missing drive and verve.

But other writing, especially the self-processing kind, needs the right time. Like Poe said of his poetry: “they must not–they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry compensations of mankind” (Preface). Perhaps this is a romantic conceit, but I think not completely.

Writing is never an isolated act. Whenever we dive into the writing process, we are already taking a heap of things with us, “in strange places crammed, the which we vent in mangled forms,” as Shakespeare might say.

We have things we’ve read. Conversations we’ve heard. We have memories. Hopes. We have the sound of a clock ticking at our back and a wind outside. We have the residue of our days or the deep water that flow within. Our sense of thrownness. Our loneliness. Our “human need for justification,” as Burke calls it, that goads “a need of struggle” (Attitudes Toward History 124).

We have our technology. Our circulation and outlets. Our anticipations and fears. Our habits and timing. Our language–a rich bag of bastardized, conglomerated, etched, stretched and beautified/uglified meaning and tonality. And as Burke says, “no one quite uses the word in its mere dictionary sense” (Philosophy of literary Form, 35). Instead, it has a much deeper dimension. A much deeper “symbolism” and set of connections.

Which leads me here. Sharing a few thoughts like unpolished stones, set (or rather, dumped) into a sea of C++ and html. My goal is not to edit or reach a conclusion, nor even state a thesis. It is not to teach. It is to explore, make sense of, essay, and meander. Like a Hazlit or a Montaigne, perhaps, but without trying to be like them.

Just being–walking with hands, and keys, and cursor. Just writing. Writing as being.

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