Feelings · Life

What writing means to you: A birthday collaboration.

Today’s really special for the blog. In commemoration of my birthday and turning 31, and also just because I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time, this post is going to be a collaboration. A joined effort between me and some of my friends, expressing our ideas on writing and what it means to us individually. It honestly warms my heart to be able to have friends who have a shared but also incredibly varied interest in writing and how they approach the topic, so without further preamble, I give you this special post.

What writing means to you: A collaboration.

“Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams, and I’ll show you a happy man.” Keating: “But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”
― Tom Schulman, Dead Poets Society

Who are you?

I have this picture in my head. Someone is sitting in silence, dark green headphones, playing music just loud enough to drown out the world around them, their brow creased with a touch of trepidation, a hint of frustration, and suddenly just for the briefest of seconds peace.

I think often of that image. It’s this reflection, a persona almost in my mind of my process. You see there’s plenty of meaning in how writing affects and changes people. There are ways and means for people to express themselves. Expressing who we are, what we want to be, and how we see the world. And all of these things are important in trying to understand what and how writing affects us as humanity. But who writing to me is, is built softly into that image, it’s a build-up of emotion, it’s how the brow in my head creases after every line. It’s how shadows move across the window as time passes, as life moves around: Chaotic but with intent.

It’s a selfish image because answering the question of what writing means to me is selfish in its answer.

I will never forget the day someone started insulting me, spewing layer upon layer of thick tar and spiked words, until finally, they reached a climax with words that went along the lines, “No one cares or even reads about you or the words you write on that shitty little blog of yours.” And I wrote about how that made me feel in detail here https://milkshakethoughts.com/2018/04/19/writing-for-writings-sake/ but it taught me one of the most important lessons I have ever learned about doing things and why we do them.

Writing for me is understanding why I write. I write knowing that the words I put down on this “canvas” may never be read or even cared about, and for me, that’s fine, better yet that’s enough for me. Because I finally understood that the things we do that we find joy in should be selfish. I write because it is an insight into my own world. I write because it allows me to safely express my image of the world around me into something real, something that can be said out loud, read quietly, and perhaps even reproduced into different facets of the psyche. You see writing has always been a way for me to understand myself and the world around me. I share my view of the world first with myself so that I may understand a little bit more about who I am as a person, and then with others, so that they may learn a little bit more about themselves maybe too.

I look back upon the 94 posts I have created on this “shitty little blog” of mine and I shiver in excitement at the understanding that I have created this legacy of my own creation, my own thoughts, and memories, ME!

I tear up loving myself and the things I have said in raw emotion, in sadness, happiness, and especially in joy expressing my beliefs my misgivings, my loves, and my interests all in cut-up size blog post chunks with the conveniently wrapped subject heading bow ties that help people get just a glimpse into me, truly and irrevocably me.

So what you may ask does writing mean to me?

It’s simple: Everything.

Because I am as much as writing as writing is of me.

And the best part about that is that I get to have my words echoed down below in wonderfully different views and perspectives by fellow creatives who share their own beliefs and ideas on what writing is and has done for them. And I sit here with headphones on, my brow creased, and music playing just loud enough to drown out the world around me and appreciate the life I have been given and the outlet I have been able to use to discover myself.

So this piece is a collaborative effort. I’m incredibly excited to be able to share a piece written by my friend Thamz, who I have immense respect for, being one of the very few people I know to have finished writing a book that illustrates and details some of the wonderful worlds he can create in his head, that he touches on in his piece. So I pass over to my fellow creative Thamz and his rendition of what writing is to him.

“… there is a great need in all of us to be accepted, but you must trust what is unique or different about yourself, even if it is odd or unpopular.”
― N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

WHAT WRITING MEANS TO ME:
Thami Phakathi

It’s tough to say, honestly. Writing, to me, is pretty much like world development. I get to be the god of my own world but, at the same time, I get to think up scenarios that may never happen in real life – or they have, but I get to fully express how I feel about them and the ways I want to react to them without actually doing so.

On top of it all, I get to create the fantasy life I’ve always desired, but even in that I kind of feel sad because although it may be a fake world I’m creating, it’s still not my REAL world. Writing is, like, basically venting to the masses without them saying, “Dude that’s crazy and impossible” yet when I put it into words and create a story around it, somehow it’s all plausible.

Example: I want to topple the governments around the world. Of course, now, as an average salary worker, I have zero power or connections to doing so. Yet I begin a story of a character who will execute steps upon steps to accomplish that goal and just by reading it, the whole thing seems plausible. I can even make the character an average salary worker like myself and mirror literally everything in my life. 

I guess, to sum it all up – what writing is to me is creating my own fantasy world and a life that I crave to have. Where, through different stories, I can expand on the things I want to do that don’t seem possible in reality.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt.

May we all find truth in the worlds we wish to see Thamz.

The next person I collaborated with is my good friend Max. He’s been writing for many years and I’m grateful to finally be able to publish some of his work here on my blog truly an honor.

“You must strive to find your own voice, … and the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all.”
― N.H. Kleinbaum, Dead Poets Society

What Writing Means to Me
Maxwell Kamlongera

The Million Dollar Question

“What does ‘writing’ mean to you?”

Have you ever asked yourself this question or been asked about it? For me, I’ve never really thought about it, and neither have I ever had to think about it, because I’ve always assumed that the answer is simple and straight forward. So why should I give it further thought?

However, that was until this week when Byron asked me to write a piece with that as the center matter. Now, with the question posed and requiring engagement, I sit here, musing in front of my laptop and thinking about what exactly writing means to me … and it’s here when I realize that it actually means quite a number of things to me.

The Million Dollar Answer

As I think about it, the answer remains quite simple, even if it was something I never really engaged with. For me, writing means three things: (1) expression, (2) communication, and (3) ideation/creation.

When I look at my writing, I only ever write to achieve one or more of these three concepts. So then, what do I mean by them? Nothing overcomplicated, to be honest, and I hope you can see the simplicity in them too and appreciate where I’m coming from.

Writing for “Expression”

In the simplest way possible, “expression” relates to expressing; emotions, feelings, emotive thoughts, and the like. Any written piece where I can vocalize what’s on my mind would fall under “expression”; this would encompass poetry, think pieces, speeches, blog articles, and the like, the list can be endless.

Normally, people like to split writing into two categories: creative writing and technical writing. Personally, I don’t think writing is this neat in its division; it’s not black and white and neither are my three categories. Writing can be black and white, but when it manages to be, the writing tends to be boring (think instruction manuals and white papers). I bring this up to say that things like think pieces, articles, and speeches are technical but you can easily see how they can be expressive and the best ones usually are.

So, for me, expressive writing is a mix of creative and technical writing. I’d label this piece as expressive with a touch of communication – definitely not ideation.

Writing for “Communication”

“Communication” is where we begin to be more technical. This type of writing is academical, informative, educational, or anything where I’m trying to get across (or impart) knowledge and/or information to another party. Examples of things I’d label as communicative writing would be instruction manuals, articles in academic journals, and reports (i.e., news; business; etc.).

Another more personal example I can give is referencing my fitness blog; the articles that appear on there would fall under communicative writing because most of the articles exist to impart information, knowledge, and experience to site visitors. However, like I’ve previously mentioned, it’d be a mistake to make the writing wholly technical (wholly black and white); sprinkle some color into it by adding expressive or creative elements to make it more interesting to read.

In my day-to-day, I write more pieces that fall under communicative than anything else.

Writing for “Ideation/Creation”

Lastly, we have “ideation/creation”. As the name would imply, this refers to creating stuff and would be predominately creative writing. I hope you can begin to see a trend in how I categorize my writing? Expressive writing is a mix, communicative writing is more technical, and ideation/creation (create) is more creative.

Short stories, novellas, novels, fiction, nonfiction, lyrics, etc. are all examples of using words to create. The key component of my creative writing is how it’s meant to be consumed by a third party. If the writing is not meant for any other eyes but my own, it turns into expressive writing. Like technical writing, ideation is meant for a third party, but in this instance, I’m not trying to impart information – that’s the only difference.

Where We Stand

With these things explained, it helps me understand how I view my writing and what it does for me. It then leads to me wonder what it means for others and how they regard it?

When I say all this, keep in mind that I’m not trying to provide the definitive, you can agree or disagree or feel at odds with one or more of the things I say. All I’m doing is trying to get across how I think, and if that can spur you to think about yourself then I think I’m doing a good job.

As long as I can express myself, communicate to others, create stories, or a mix of these things, I love writing. There’s a freedom that comes with it that I’ll never be able to put into words because a good percentage of it is an indescribable feeling.

This year, I turn 32, and in my three decades of living, I’ve learnt I have three loves: video games (I learnt this at the age of 3), fitness (discovered this at the age of 20), and reading/writing (realized this at the age of 10). As some of you would rightly point out, video games and fitness are an odd pair that don’t complement each other, but writing can stand on its own or relate to the other two; I’ve written about games, I’ve written about fitness, and I’ve written about a lot of other things. Writing has freedom and flexibility that the other two don’t quite have and that is precious to me.

This post has been an absolute highlight on my birthday and I believe in sharing the expression of the written word so I finally get to add friend plugs to a post!

SO

If you want to read more from the wonderful creatives above, here is a little bit more information about them and where you can find more of their work:

Maxwell is a gamer and certified personal trainer with a love for all things writing. You can check out more of his craft through his fitness blog where he provides free and helpful information for all.

Here: http://mxfitnessworld.com

As for Thamziri, the pauciloquent yet loud-minded nerd extraordinaire. Content creator on Instagram/YouTube/Twitch/TikTok. Lover of literature. Can be found here: https://www.twitch.tv/Thamziri?sr=a and his book which is FREE can be found here:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/243631557?utm_source=android&utm_medium=whatsapp&utm_content=story_info&wp_page=story_details_button&wp_uname=ThamiPhakathi&wp_originator=H3c%2FVpAmsjLFL7JEQuxgzXTbgmI3RGPPRx5MtPI9SaHwIRf4PeX4Q6RLZiDyqoPBIkYzCmkW7pBrtZFUJpqcDIgHUB%2BaP0mw2VhW5BjuHaXhK64zETHcvpdDqZM0Faee

As for me. All I can say is thank you dear, Reader for letting me share my world once more on the day I celebrate the moment I came into this world. I leave you simply with this image

“Second star to the right and straight on ’til morning. ”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

And the simple hope that you took a sliver of yourself away with this post, and just for a brief moment shared with us an image of the writer, the poet, and the dreamer.

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