“I live a split-screen existence,” Tom volunteered. “That’s a boring thing to have to articulate, but it’s an interesting thing to have to live with.”
What? What is worth doing? Tom, after relaying some of his own experiences, asked us to consider this question in terms of our writing, to approach language in terms of our convictions. I wonder if my writing is something that grows out of or around a sense of responsibility to those with whom I’ve shared my experiences, to the culture that has helped shape my texts. If so, perhaps my writing has to matter to them as much as it matters to me. If not, perhaps still. Perhaps I have an obligation to do more than advertise my own originality. What? What does it mean to write the best piece? To put words to ideas in the catalogue of my experiences. To pull experiences through my catalogue of words to relay ideas. To show my catalogue of ideas as experiences through words. “If you have an obsession,” Tom said to the group, “don’t question it. You thank your lucky stars and move toward it.”
What? What is worth doing? Tom, after relaying some of his own experiences, asked us to consider this question in terms of our writing, to approach language in terms of our emotions. I wonder if my writing is something that stems from the way I feel about the world around me, my reaction to the culture, to everything apart from and including me. If so, perhaps my writing will intrinsically matter to others. If not, perhaps it never will. Perhaps I have an instinct to write only that which creates meaning for myself, which, perhaps again, is the only way any writer can intentionally create meaning. What? What do I want to write? Stories that put my emotions to ideas through words. Words that put my emotions into stories. Emotions that— Can I interrupt myself by having Tom’s voice interrupt my structure? “You want to write interesting sentences.”
Tom stressed a micro view of work—as opposed to a macro view of the work—in order to, at least while writing, shift the writer’s attention away from the career, the publication, the piece, the page, and toward the sentence, which, if we want it to, if we deem it worthy, can blend our split-screened perceptions or separate them just enough to let us see the world more wholly, to let others see it with us.
Christopher Notarnicola studies creative writing at Florida Atlantic University.