On Writing

(Some of you who have clicked here assumed that this was a review of Stephen King’s book. Sorry to disappoint you)

The earliest archaeological record of a human writing system is cuneiform, markings made on clay tablets created as early as 3500 BC. The primary purpose for this was record-keeping, although writing for religious and/or aesthetic purposes were embodied by the Sumerian epic poems, most notably Gilgamesh, which tells the story of a powerful god-like king.

Literary and writing traditions were inherited, modified, and spread. We know this due to influences in each type of literature that hearken to traditions of another culture, another style, another individual. Some types of literature may have developed independently, but as a whole, literature has been a product of traditions of individuals and entire cultures interacting with one another.  Take poetry, for example. Classical Tang dynasty poetry is at once completely different and uncannily similar to sonnets of the Renaissance. Both contain rigid structures, strict guidelines, and yet the poet has complete reign in subject matter. It is only a matter of preference that dictates the poet’s subject.

The type of literature we (in the Western World) recognize most readily is Western Literature. It draws its roots from Classical Greek and Roman literature, as well as the Bible, which from a literary standpoint has been the most powerful work in the Western culture.

Writing has also developed into an art form. Fine literature has developed into something as diverse as visual arts have today. Western Literature, since Shakespeare’s time, first ventured into Romanticism and later to Realism, then shifted into the seemingly incomprehensible contemporary literature we know today. Not only has high-brow literature developed. Sci-fi and fantasy are two genres that have flourished dramatically in the past century.

So what is writing? The simplest definition is that it is another type of communication, one that is unhindered by the passage time. While writing can be used to communicate to larger audiences than those within earshot, it is also a way to communicate to yourself. Have you ever used sticky notes as reminders for something important? Then you have witnessed the power of writing. In a way, you have talked to your future, although at present the conversation is one-sided.

Blogging is also a later- twentieth and twenty-first type of literature, albeit one that is much less formal than its predecessors. I pride myself as a person who can use English reasonably well, and this post is testimony to that.

A Warm Welcome

Two days before my birthday, I received a most delightful gift: Sean, whom I met when he taught chess at AGWCS, and who runs this blog, offered me authorship at this blog; I gratefully accepted.

Although I only met Sean for once a week for about one and a half  years (not including summers and other miscellaneous holidays), I held an admiration for him that went beyond teacher and student; I aspired to be like him, who had none of the faults that I had. I learned more that chess from him (Though sadly I haven’t touched any chess pieces since then… oh well).

Sean extended this offer to me earlier in the evening when I replied to his about page and described how I wanted to start blogging but found the effort required to be more than I expected. In his offer, he told me that I could use this as an opportunity to take up blogging. I was nearly moved to tears (metaphorical, of course) as soon as I read this.

I have always been interested in writing in general, and the art of writing, which, sometimes, can be very different. Like blogging, I have never found any motivation to sit down and write unless it was for some sort of assignment. Like anybody who has any experience in writing in the English language, I wrote well enough for whatever assignment was at hand, but I personally thought I could do better. There were times when I stopped writing for a moment —from a cramp, or from a mental traffic jam, whatever the case— and considered starting over, or perhaps quitting, from continuing the terrible mess of an essay.

Sean has given me more than a chance to start blogging. He has given me critics who no doubt have read many of his well-written essays. He has given me editors, and publishers, and an audience who I know who will accept me and my faults ( or not). I don’t have enough words to use to express my thanks (the current count is 345).

I look forward to posting regularly at this blog.