Ever since we’re born, writing holds a very important part in our lives and the lives of those around us. Remember (okay maybe we don’t but can visualise it anyway) how our mothers try teaching us small words even when we haven’t learned to walk; how the first word we say is a matter of great pride and achievement for our ‘ma’, ‘papa’ ‘dadi’, ‘nani’ – or whoever that word represents in our family; how the first word we say becomes a moment of historic significance for our parents, who quickly record its exact date and time in our well-preserved baby books.
By the time we leave the comfort of our homes and enter school, we have already mastered the spoken word and are ready to embrace the art of writing. We start with our ABCs of course, and then gradually, in the first four or five formative years of our cognitive minds’ development, we embark on the tiresome journey of learning as we deftly move – from letters to words, from words to sentences, from sentences to paragraphs – until we are ready to form our own discourses.
No matter how significant our writings may seem to others, in our world they are extremely special. They are like our babies. After all, we’re the ones who create them, fight all odds (read distractions) to bring them into this world, and rely on them almost completely to keep our name alive long after we’ve passed on.
They are ‘ours’. They are perhaps the only thing in life that we truly possess. They won’t change when everything and everyone (including us) else has. And when we entrap ourselves in a myriad other things, only to realise later how irrelevant they truly are, one look at those words reminds us what we used to be once upon a time.
It is quite sad, therefore, even tragic perhaps, that as we grow, we start taking words for granted. We lose touch with the beauty of words just as we stop paying attention to their sound. We rely too much on meaning and take even the hint of instinct away from what we write. We continue to write, of course, but we do it for others, for a deal we want to seal, for a girl we want to impress, for a message we want to convey. We possess them but they no longer remain our own. In our fervour of infusing them with meaning, we starve them of beauty and love, and in the process we extract all life out of them.
This tragic scene is the cue for Creative Writing to make an entry. Creative Writing is the rebel’s cause – fighting to bring life back into words, and to bring words back into our lives. It heroically connects meaning with feeling and reminds us that writing is not just a string of words sown together by necessity. They are the backbone of expression, not the kind of expression used for communication with others, but one which makes survival possible, even appealing at times.
It lets us tell tales that the deepest and most hidden corners of our mind harbour and protect from judgement and criticism of the world outside. It frees us from bondages of weighing everything in terms of its utility and sets us free, so we can accept things, events, people and most importantly words for what they are, and in the process move a step closer to identifying (since defining is impossible and thoroughly futile) ourselves.
However, the most important feat that Creative Writing performs is to teach us to listen – to images, silences, screams, music, joy, pain, memories – and to pick words hidden in their depths, and bring them out in the open. After all, isn’t it the will to listen that gives birth to the courage to speak?
About the Author
Deepti Razdan is a PhD Scholar at the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia. She completed her MPhil in English Literature from the Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia and M.A (English) from Delhi University. She has taught English language and literature to undergraduates at Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia. She is currently based in Toronto.