The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin to excuse yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.
–Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin
I read this the other day and immediately thought of it in terms of fiction writing. But then once I was done doing that, I thought about it in the context of this blog.
I tend to write about things that stir up questions inside me, and I think through the process of writing my questions and possible answers I am actively seeking truth, or a truth. I don’t know if I get any closer to it, but that’s what I’m going for: understanding of something that can be understood.
One of the most impossible things about writing is not writing for an audience. I know that few people read my blog, but I still shape my writing in a way that I think will be palatable to them, or will make them think I’m funny, etc. etc. According to Atwood, doesn’t that mean I’m lying? That I’m excusing myself? Which leads me to the question: What is the purpose of this blog?
It’s not for other people, even though I sometimes cater to their tastes. It’s not for memory’s sake, because I can remember what’s important without writing it down (and when I do write it down, it’s a flawed, selective picture: I write it as I want to remember it). In essence, it is a daily exercise in writing well, keeping my writer’s faculties sharp, so that when I acquire the nerve and confidence to write something that has hatched in my brain and wants to be told, I will not be completely rusty. It seems an impossible task, but I want to write the truth, as best I can. Without censoring myself, without fear, without consideration of anything but the words pouring out and blotting the white of my Word document.
It is often said that art is a lie that tells the truth, and I think that is a beautiful paradox. And one that I want to wield.
Mini-meditation on truth/lies/writing: complete.