Writing and The Life of Words

Written by Eki Akhwan

Writing is like speaking: true. Both are productive language skills. But most of us also know that writing has advantages that speaking doesn’t.

You would probably say that permanence is one of them. Writing preserves our words. It gives them life of their own. It separates them from the source — us! Thereupon. they will breathe, beat, and grow on their own — like a child born out of his mother’s womb. They may be traced back to us — like a child bearing his parents’ genes — but they are not an exact copy of us. They will grow with our guidance, for a while, but our influence will not be the only one that makes them what they will become. There are others’ — like a child, they too will have their own friends, play their own games, enter into their own environments (either by force or by choice),  interact with multitude others, and develop into a personality of their own, which will become their identities. They will produce their own meanings, subject to their interactions with — and interpretations by — others.

Like a child too, they will (most probably) outlive their parents. They will get married and have offspring of their own.

Such is the life of words, written.

Of course, spoken words may also share some of the fortunes that their written siblings have. But they will be formless — like the air. They evaporate and go anywhere without clear delineations of their shapes and legacies — until a living soul catches them (adopts them) and gives them a definite living line, a form, in writing.

Writing is thus a force that brings life — to words, to ideas. And only life can save lives, including — if we continue using the child as a metaphor — that of the parent’ (the author). Just like a child who can take care of his ailing parent, written words too can provide the care the parent needs when she needs one. They can become a source of comfort, a partner with whom she can talk. They can help her find the solutions she needs for her problems. They can be a doctor, a psychiatrist, or a spiritual guru — depending on what problems she needs to solve.

Writing helps the author recognizes himself — his potentials, his problems. It is a means of self-reflectivity (reflectiveness?), self-analysis — the road and the vehicle by which he can discover or rediscover himself.

Writing is an engagement with oneself. It is an exploration of the depth — the dark, the invisible, the unconscious — of our existence. It brings into the surface and into light the formless controlling forces so that they may be examined, scrutinized, and be given the forms that can be shaped and reshaped by our awareness.

You may argue that speaking may also accomplish those things. It might. But spoken words are formless — like that of the air — you can’t rely on them. They could still be of use, of course, but it can only be done with the presence of a solid body that can be the sounding board (the reflectivity element) who can respond, confirm, reaffirm, in tangible manners,your concerns — probably like that of a doctor, a psychiatrist, or a spiritual guru.

So, writing definitely has advantages that speaking is lacking. This is my argument.


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